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Electoral Assistance
October 18, 2011
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October 18, 2011

Civic Education addresses civil society’s participation in democratic and development processes at both local and national levels. It is an important means for capacity development on the societal level by empowering people for effective civic engagement. It is an essential dimension in strengthening a society’s ability to manage its own affairs and is complementary to capacity development on the individual and institutional levels. At the core of Civic Education are the values and principles of transparency, participation, responsiveness, accountability, empowerment and equity. This module uses a broad, educational definition of Civic Education and in this context refers to School & Community Based Civic & Citizenship Education.

This module should be used in conjunction with the Voter Information module. There is much overlap between Voter Information and Civic Education modules – many repeated (generic) sections – and many complementary activities. When facilitators are designing agendas for their participants – they should have a clear understanding of the terminology used in these modules (especially how Voter Information / Education, Voter Awareness, Electoral Education, Civic Education are defined and differentiated), and a clear idea of what the participants are expecting the topic to be about. Training objectives should be built around the needs/expectations of the participants.

Agendas (of 1 to 5-day durations) have been designed that examine the concepts of Voter Education and Awareness programs, and Civic (and Electoral) Education programs – discretely, and also in combination (so both are covered).

The subjects covered in this module include:

  • Definitions of Civic Education: Different definitions and contexts of civic education are explored, as well as related topics of voter information and electoral education.
  • Rationale for Civic Education: Reasons for increasing the participation of citizens in the democratic processes are explored in a number of contexts. The importance of promoting democratic practices in all aspects of society is emphasized. Also, the quality and nature of democratic participation as a means to increasing “social capital” is investigated.
  • Principles of and Standards for Effective Civic Education: International standards for effective civic education programmes (universality, clarity and impartiality) are demonstrated in a number of case studies and practical exercises. Strategies for increasing participation of key stakeholder groups and beneficiaries such as youth, media, women and people with disabilities are discussed.
  • Developing Civic Education Programs: Strategies for planning effective civic education programs are developed. Techniques for identifying different educational needs of all stakeholders in the civic education process, such as surveying, are investigated. Assessing resources (human and material), selecting objectives and designing activities are investigated with a variety of activities. Both school based civic education and community based civic education are considered during the design process. Finally civic education is considered in the shorter time frame of electoral education prior to an electoral event.

As with other BRIDGE modules, practical considerations are given to program design and implementation such as methods of monitoring and evaluation and the development of timelines and detailed plans.

The module provides a much-needed framework and methodology for EMBs, educators and other providers of civic education and to potential voters and society at large. By taking these approaches and principles to heart, civic education values can be instilled in society from a very young age, vastly improving the quality of their participation in democratic processes their electoral system and ensuring the sustainability and vitality of democratic participation.

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