By Anjali Pathmanathan – 3 week volunteer
Every Tuesday and Thursday of each week, KSES staff and volunteers go to the nearby Primary School to teach the children English. Yesterday, four of us went to conduct the classes, expecting to find grades P4 and P5 ready and waiting for their weekly English lesson. Instead, we found the children happily distracted by something exciting going on at the school. It turned out that the school was in the process of voting for their next student-body president. When we walked into the P4 classroom, the teacher excused the children to go take part in the democratic process. The children ran across the courtyard to the assembly hall, where each child was given a small slip of paper on which they could choose their favorite leader out of the four running candidates. Once the student had made their choice, they placed their completed ballot inside of the official ballot box, which was sealed and prominently displayed in the center of the room.
After each student voted and all the ballots were collected in the box, the teachers called the entire student-body over to the assembly hall. On the board in front of them, the teachers had posted a large voting chart where they would soon mark every vote cast for each respective candidate. The children—boys and girls, young and old—sat in one large, animated group. They chatted excitedly and played boisterously while the teachers prepared for the official ballot counting process.
Once the counting process was ready, the children quieted down as the governing teacher ceremoniously unsealed the ballot-box. You could tell the children were excited. Their hushed chatter and animated faces expressed their joy in taking part in this democratic process. The ballot counting began: with each ballot, the teacher held up the paper slip and called out the selected candidate. Without fail, at each declaration of another vote, the children cheered. They cheered for every single vote—regardless of who was selected on each ballot—sharing their congratulations for every candidate no matter who got the vote. Finally, after all the ballots were counted, the winning candidate was revealed to the chorus of thunderous cheers from the happy children. The winner, an older boy in a yellow shirt, shyly came to the front of the audience and accepted his winning title as the next student president of the school.
It was an exhilarating day for the students, and a wonderful process to watch because we got to see the excitement that this simple voting process brought to the children as they chose their new leader.