Spotlight on Quidan Kaisahan: Barangay’s include Children’s Voices in Development
October 2006. A barangay in Sipalay, Negros Occidental, Philippines, already created its Development Plan earlier this year, but did not include much participation on the part of the children. The adults in the community realized that it was important to include children’s concerns in their Plan and sought to take action.

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The children of Brgy. Cayhagan during the Child Welfare Planning.
The barangay1 decided to incorporate a child welfare plan, conceived by the children themselves, into their Development Plan. This plan will: prioritize an alternative learning program for working and at-risk youth, improvement of school facilities for the in-school children, development of livelihood projects for parents of child laborers, improved access to technical and vocational training programs for the youth, and improvement of health and nutrition services in the community

As the plan took shape and commitments formed, Raymund flashed a smile. Raymund, a 17 year-old who stopped school at 10 and works as a farmer and fisherman, had expressed earlier in meeting with adults that, “I dream of finishing high school and college. I want to get a better job so as to help my family and community.” Now, Raymund was pleased and said: “Now I can say that I have a better fighting chance to attain good education… I promise to motivate my peers to value education. Without good education, our future is uncertain.”

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Children voicing their needs to the Barangay.
In the end, the child welfare planning workshop proved not just to be a venue for addressing community issues, but an empowering process for all, especially the children. They shared their issues and dreams and enthusiastically declared their readiness to study and encourage their peers to either go back to school or participate in the alternative learning system.

1 A Barangay is the smallest local government unit and is the native Filipino term for a village. Cities are composed of groups of barangays.