October 19, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Chairman of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), Dr. Abubakar Kargbo, has stated that civic education was key to achieving democratic governance in Sierra Leone because it would enhance fundamental understanding of the structures of government and the process by which government passes laws and makes policy.
Dr. Kargbo was speaking at the Sierra Leone Bank Complex in Freetown yesterday during the national civic education needs assessment validation workshop, organised by the NCD in partnership with Advocate Plus.
The workshop, which was supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), attracted officials from non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations, local government institutions, and many other institutions.
He noted that over three decades now Sierra Leoneans have been yearning for a return of civic education to schools and tertiary institutions.
He mainatained that democratic citizenship was all but impossible if citizens failed to understand basic concepts such as civic responsibility, separation of powers, nationalism, patriotism, individual rights, and the role of government.
“Sierra Leoneans should imbibe the psyche of responsible citizenship which requires even more knowledge. It demands that the public understand the history that continues to shape the present day Sierra Leone, aspects of its geography that are vital to understanding the country and the world, and the political economy that is necessary to ensure an efficient, infective and sustainable assessment of public policy,” he said.
He added that with civic education, Sierra Leoneans would be more proactive and contribute meaningfully to the country’s socio-economic development because young people would know more about government and more likely vote, discuss national politics rationally, engage the government constructively and participate in other civic activities from an informed position than their less knowledgeable counterparts.
He said the need for civic education in the educational system of the country could not be overemphasised as it accords tremendous advantage to the state.
He added that the scheme would capacitate citizens with civic skills crucial to promoting efficient and effective participation, which is an important ingredient not only to ensuring an efficient democratic good governance environment, but also as active and responsible citizens in promoting sustainable democracy consolidation in the country.
Also speaking, Head of Programmes at Advocate Plus, Samuel Allen, said his organisation was a local non-governmental organisation located in Bo, southern Sierra Leone, and was established in 2009 with the aim of empowering people so that they would take informed decisions and effect change in their lives.
He said his organisation was dedicated to promoting and protecting the social rights of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children, through grassroots action and income generation.
He said the UNDP supports one of their projects titled ‘promoting constitutional and participatory democracy through civic education in Sierra Leone,’ which aims to develop civic life especially among the youth, marginalised, and women in the country, as well as contribute to sustaining constitutional participatory democracy.
He said the project has several components, including a national civic education needs assessment baseline survey, a civic education strategy that would culminate in the preparation of modules and learning materials to roll-out civic education, especially to the formal sector, with the aim of providing a boost to the promotion of democracy and good governance in Sierra Leone.
He said the overall objective of the national civic education needs assessment baseline survey was to create a sense or culture of nationhood, nationalism and nation-state among Sierra Leoneans through improved knowledge in civic responsibility.
Deputy Team Leader of Governance Unit at UNDP, Edward Kamara, said they were very delighted to working with partners as part of their contribution to the development of Sierra Leone.
He emphasised that civic education would be key to the achievement of democratic good governance in Sierra Leone, adding that there was need for it to be included in the curriculum in primary and tertiary institutions, thus ensuring that youth of the nation know their civic rights.