Strategic to its consolidation of democracy, the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) is desirous to catch them young and instil the ideals of democracy even before they reach adulthood. Catching them at that tender age and orientating their minds about the values of democracy especially, as first-time voters, is significant because it is a crucial period in the development of the adolescent. The information they receive and believe, in this period of their lives, will go a long way in shaping their character and subsequently moulding their behaviour in becoming good and responsible citizens. It is in light of the above notion that NCD has established “The Children for Democracy School Clubs” even as the members are orientated about the fundamentals of democracy and good governance.
The Commission has officially launched the clubs in various schools across the country to serve as a conduit to engage their peers and discuss issues around strengthening and consolidating our nascent democracy. The first phase of the launch, which started in January and continued into February, 2023, was done in two schools in every district across the country save the Western Area where three schools in both the Urban and Rural districts benefited. The Commission has put in place measures to ensure that the members of these clubs are provided with the requisite knowledge so that they can educate their peers.
Addressing the club members at the United Methodist Secondary School, at Njagboima in Bo, the Chairman of the National Commission for Democracy, Madam Marian Angela Samu, underscored the need for the club while noting the significant role members have to play in educating their peers about the values of democracy and the need to uphold the rule of law. She encouraged the members to perform their roles diligently with a view to broadening the knowledge of their peers about the tenets of democratic good governance. She further orientated the club about the forthcoming elections and provided them with basic information about the type of elections to be conducted on June 24, 2023. She informed the pupils that the 2023 elections, as announced by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, will be conducted using the Proportional Representation/District Block Representation System. She used the occasion to provide basic relevant information about the electoral system with a view to educating pupils especially first-time voters. She further admonished the pupils to abide by the rules of the Electoral Commission and retire to their respective homes peacefully after voting and then wait for the announcement of the official elections results.
At the St. James Secondary School in Kenema, the Commissioner heading the Eastern Region, Pastor Momoh Bockarie, officially launched the club and congratulated the members even as he encouraged them to consistently engage their peers to enhance their understanding of democracy and good governance. He noted that with the launch of the Children for Democracy Club, he is assured of a formidable team of pupils who will serve as ambassadors for democracy in the school. He elaborated on the beauty of democracy noting that sovereignty lies with the people and therefore they have the sole authority of giving entrance legitimacy into political positions. He said, in a democracy, elections are conducted on a periodic and regular basis so that political leaders will give account of their stewardship and seek fresh mandate from the people. He therefore urged the boys and girls of St. James Secondary to vote wisely.
In Makeni, at the St. Francis Secondary School, the launch of the club was done by the Officer-in-Charge of the Northern Region who also doubles as the Director of Admin and Human Resources of the Commission, Alhaji Mark Tholley. In his brief statement, he underscored the need for the school clubs saying that the pupils constituting the clubs will better communicate the concepts to their peers. He stated that the Commission will provide the clubs with the requisite materials to furnish their understanding of democracy and good governance so that they will in turn use the materials to educate their peers. He encouraged the pupils of the St. Francis Secondary School to behave well and portray the attitude of a good citizen that will attract their peers to emulate their good conducts. He assured the members that the Commission will engage them on a regular basis to strengthen and promote collaborative engagement between the Club and the Commission.
Schlenker Secondary School and Maforki Agricultural Islamic Secondary School, in the Port Loko district, also had their Children for Democracy School Clubs launched. The launch of the Clubs was officially done by the Regional Officer-in-Charge, Alie Baba Kamara, who made an explicit presentation on the Proportional Representation/District Block Representation System with a focus on how this type of electoral system works. He encouraged members of the club to be nationalistic and patriotic even as he admonished the first-time voters to adhere to the electoral rules and participate peacefully in the elections.
Launching the Children for Democracy Club at the Government Model Secondary School, the Chairman, Madam Marian Angela Samu, reiterated the significance of the Club, noting that the Commission will be collaborating with them to reach their peers in order to enhance their democratic orientation. She, while presenting the Club to the School, encouraged the pupils to be law abiding and politically tolerant. She used the occasion to educate the pupils, most of whom will be voting for the first time, about the Proportional Representation/District Block Representation System that will be used in conducting the 2023 elections. Elucidating on the significance of the Club, the Commissioner heading the Western region, Benjamin Macfoy, noted that members of the club will be serving as ambassadors for democracy in the school. He therefore urged them to be mindful of how they comport themselves in school so that their colleagues will perceive them to be shining examples of good citizens.
It must be reiterated that the Commission is poised to fully engage these clubs across the country with a view to enhancing citizenship education for the in-school youths. The Commission is also looking forward to reaching out to more schools in the country to launch the Children for Democracy Clubs. The launch of the clubs is complementing the flagpoles project through which the Commission has engaged ninety-five (95) schools across the country. This project provides flagpole galleries, roll-up stands with a printout of the National Pledge and National Anthem. Other civic education materials are part of the package for schools meant for the education of the Youth.