5 Benefits of Sustained Civic Education
As part of the Uadilifu: a more democratic society URAIA Trust funded project, CTL has been conducting sustained civic education for over 25 months. The content of this civic education was based on a civic education curriculum developed by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning. Our civic education focused on four broad topics namely the Constitution of Kenya, Devolution, Citizen Participation and Representation of the People. Specifically, our civic educators educated members of the public on the sovereignty of the people, devolved structures, objects of devolution, importance and avenues of citizen participation as well citizen power and how they exercise that power according to the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. Our approach of delivering civic education saw 33,000+ members in various citizen formations such as women groups, youth groups among others exposed to civic education at least four times. Here are some benefits that the sustained approach has over one-off civic education delivery methods:
- Enables citizens to consolidate learning
The sustained method involves delivery of civic education in a systematic manner. In our case, civic education was delivered to the same audience in four separate meetings. In each meeting, a single topic was discussed. This systematic way of educating citizens enabled our target audience to consolidate learning over time while building on knowledge acquired in preceding sessions. This sustained exposure to different topics makes it difficult for citizens to forget what they learn through civic education.
- Allows civic educators to respond to questions adequately
Civic education is a highly informal mode of learning that allows adult audiences to gain knowledge on civic matters. This means that throughout civic education sessions, target audiences interact with civic educators often sharing their interpretation of the content being shared and asking questions regarding the application of that content to their situations. Due to the nature of sustained civic education, civic educators meet with the same audience several times, an aspect that provides sufficient room or time for them to respond to questions or issues raised by citizens adequately. Civic educators also create a rapport with citizens during learning sessions, something that breaks barriers over time allowing citizens to discuss issues freely.
- Enables citizens to better identify and plan for civic action
One of the qualities of an effective civic education session is practicability. The content just has to be simple and relevant enough to make sense to the target audience. The use of practical examples that citizens can identify with is critical. Utilizing these tips while delivering civic education in a sustained manner enables citizens to identify issues that they would want to see change and develop strategies what civic action to take and how to take it. A case in point is a self-help group in Njoro sub-county that opted to form a 5 member committee to investigate a stalled hospital project funded by CDF and inform members of the formation upon which they would decide on the next action.
- Motivates citizens to act
Citizens get time to identify issues that require civic engagement when they are exposed to civic education on a continuous basis. This is because the structure of civic education allows for the systematic sharing of information in a way that is easy for citizens to understand and utilize. They also have time to internalize that information and see its practicability. A good understanding of citizen rights and responsibilities motivates them to take action in civic matters.
- Enhances consistency in information is sharing
Sustained civic education follows an established curriculum. This makes it easy for a civic educator to organize the content in a logical and coherent manner such that each session builds on the learnings delivered in the previous session. The fact that there are several civic education session lined up, in our case four sessions, information is shared in a consistent manner. This makes it possible for the target audience to learn and retain more information as opposed to when only one civic session is held.