Civic education is the continual and systematic provision of information and learning experiences to all citizens for their effective participation in democratic life. The purpose of civic education is to have an informed citizenry that actively participates in governance affairs of the society on the basis of enhanced knowledge, understanding and ownership.
Civic education imparts information and creates awareness of civic morals and values, rights and responsibilities and on how these are exercised and accessed by all citizens within society including disadvantaged and marginalized groups.
Civic education is often used in combination with other participatory governance tools. It can take different forms from classroom-based learning, informal training, experiential learning, to mass media campaigns. When done effectively, it leads to more effective and inclusive participation by all citizens in socio-economic, political and governance processes affecting their lives.
'Purpose-driven' Civic Education?
Purpose-drive civic education is designed to trigger some actions from citizens to participate in specific process or to take specific action in a democratic process. It should activate the grassroots to engage in public action, amplify their issues and offer solutions. Purpose-driven civic education should be:
- Delivered in a timely way, for example, just before the county government process where citizen participation is sought, to activate citizens to engage effectively in the process.
- Relevant targeted and delivered appropriately so that citizens can see the value of participating. For example, key information and documents i.e. policies, laws, plans and budgets, reports to be deliberated on should be simplified so that citizens can easily understand and relate the content to their interests.
More about Civic Education
- County Public Participation Guidelines, Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Planning and Council of Governors. 2016
- Citizens handbook. Empowering citizens through civic education. Uraia and International Republican Institute (IRI). Nairobi
- Jukumu Langu: Me and the County Government. State Department of Devolution and Council of Governors
- Your right and responsibility as a citizen in your county affairs. ACE Africa. Flyer prepared for Siaya County under grant from USAID, AHADI Project.
- Uraia - A national civic education organization in Kenya
Civic Education Training Materials
- Devolution and public participation in Kenya, Civic education curriculum for general public. Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Transition Authority.
- Devolution and public participation in Kenya, Civic education trainer’s manual – Executive programme. Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Transition Authority.
- Devolution and public participation in Kenya, Civic education trainer’s manual for learning institutions. Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Transition Authority.
- Devolution and public participation in Kenya, Civic education handouts for participants. Ministry of Devolution and Planning and Transition Authority.
What are the Benefits of Civic Education?
- It makes sure that all citizens learn about their rights and responsibilities and how these are accessed and exercised.
- It facilitates effective public participation.
- It creates awareness for disadvantaged groups, such as the poor, women and marginalised communities on their social and political rights.
- It plays a major role in capacity development and leadership training for leaders at national and local levels.
- It equips citizens with moral and civic values and virtues, as well as beliefs, habits and principles.
Examples of Effective Civic Education Methods
- Civic education forums and campaigns by the government or civil society organisations (CSOs)
- Barazas and public forums
- Religious gatherings
- Theatre—using drama to communicate messages
- Television and FM radio
- Social Media—WhatsApp, Twitter, bulk sms, memes, Facebook
- Magazines and newspapers
- Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials:
These materials are most effective when translated into local languages.
County Governments and Civic Education
Part X, section 100 of the County Government Act (2012) provides for civic education and requires that each county implement an appropriate civic education programme. The programmes should be sustained to ensure citizen understand their civic roles, rights and responsibility and can use knowledge acquired for informed participation in civic and political processes.
County governments are required to plan and budget for the conduct regular and purpose-driven civic education programmes. The county executive and assembly, sub-county, ward and village administrators should conduct civic education sessions to inform county residents on issues that may come up for public interrogation. Themes that may inform civic education include:
- County policy making;
- Law making processes;
- Public finance management processes;
- Development planning processes;
- Monitoring and evaluating county budget implementation;
- Evaluating periodic county reports;
- Assessment and monitoring of county projects;
- Public procurement; and
- Evaluating county service delivery.
Civic education by both the national and county governments contributes to effective public participation. It requires a structured, innovative and sustainable approach adapted to local context. When citizens are educated and sensitised about their civic duties, rights, obligations and those of the government, they are better empowered and the quality of their engagement is improved.
Legal basis for Civic Education
Part X of the County Government Act (2012) provides for civic education as outlined below.
PART X – CIVIC EDUCATION
98. Principles of civic education
(1) The principles of civic education are intended to promote—
(a) empowerment and enlightenment of citizens and government;
(b) continual and systemic engagement of citizens and government; and
(c) values and principles of devolution in the Constitution.
(2) No other content may be disseminated under civic education other than as provided for under section 100.
99. Purpose and objectives of civic education
(1) The purpose of civic education under this Act is to have an informed citizenry that actively participates in governance affairs of the society on the basis of enhanced knowledge, understanding and ownership of the Constitution.
(2) The objectives of civic education are—
(a) sustained citizens’ engagement in the implementation of the Constitution;
(b) improved understanding, appreciation and engagement in the operationalization of the county system of government;
(c) institutionalizing a culture of constitutionalism;
(d) knowledge of Kenya’s transformed political system, context and implications;
(e) enhanced knowledge and understanding of electoral system and procedures;
(f) enhanced awareness and mainstreaming of the Bill of Rights and National values;
(g) heightened demand by citizens for service delivery by institutions of governance at the county level;
(h) ownership and knowledge on the principal economic, social and political issues facing county administrations and their form, structures and procedures; and
(i) appreciation for the diversity of Kenya’s communities as building blocks for national cohesion and integration.
100. Design and implementation of civic education
(1) Subject to subsection (2), each county shall implement an appropriate civic education programme and establish a civic education unit in this regard.
(2) For purposes of subsection (1), there shall be established a national design and framework of civic education, to determine the contents of the curriculum for civic education taking into account the provisions of Article 33 of the Constitution.
(3) The national and county governments shall facilitate the implementation of civic education programme under subsection (2).
(4) The design and implementation of county civic education programmes under this section shall involve the participation of registered non-state actors as may by regulations be prescribed.
101. Institutional framework for civic education
Subject to section 100, County legislation shall provide the requisite institutional framework for purposes of facilitating and implementing civic education programmes under this Part.