By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Chairman of the National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED) Kalilu Ibrahim Totangi, has stated that a survey conducted by his institution has revealed that only about 41% of young people know about the District Block System.
He was speaking yesterday, Tuesday May 16, at the Sierra Leone Bank Complex, Kingtom, in Freetown, during the launch of the of the findings of the perception survey on youth political participation in the country.
The survey was done by NaCCED, under the Sierra Leone Democracy Strengthening Project, a European Union funded intervention which is supervised/administered by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IIDEA), to support democratic institutions and civil society organizations in Sierra Leone to promote credible and peaceful 2023 elections, increase citizens knowledge and participation of especially women and young people.
He said they were working with International Idea to promote youth participation in politics and also try to discourage incident of violence among youth, adding that they deem it fit that before they embark on the project there was need to have data.
He said the data is not only about youth participation in politics, but their perception leading them to misbehave when it comes to politics.
He said they contacted Institute for Governance Reforms (IGR) to conduct the survey, targeting about 1,600, both face to face and online.
He said the report informed them that only 41% of young people know about the district block system that was recently introduced.
He said as a commission, they were already working and engaging people to disseminate messages about the district block system, adding that they have already developed some messages that will be shared on the social media to help sensitize people.
Executive Director of IGR, Andrew Lavali, said during the research, they found out that 25% of youth were willing to work in ensuring peaceful electioneering process.
He said the survey establishes that 80-85% of young people believe that if the country is governed by young people, development will progress faster.
He said many young people also believe in the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, with about 85% satisfied with the electoral process, 75% satisfied with the voter ID cards while 25% not satisfied because the photos are dark.
Also speaking, Governance and Relations with Civil Society European Programme Manager at European Union to Sierra Leone, Enrico Sborgi, said political participation is one of the two pillars of representative democracy, together with political pluralism and that it is on those two dimensions that political scientists assess how healthy and real democracy is in each country.
He said civic and voter education inform and stimulate political participation and that the result of the survey which are disseminated, are essential for the development of the voter education strategy and targeted content not only for NACCED but for all actors involved in stimulating political participation in Sierra Leone.
He said through the EU supported IDEA Programme, the findings of the survey will support NACCED, ECSL and other actors to develop voter education outreach initiatives targeted at different constituencies of participants with specific messages, using innovative approaches including tailor-made messages for dissemination through community radios.
He said the EU believes that the survey will contribute to enhance quality and effectiveness of voter education and participation as well as to building a harmonious society, where all citizens know and enjoy their rights, participate effectively in political process and feel they are part of a participative democratic country.
The country Programme Manager of IIDEA, Dr. Idris Mambu Tarawally said the survey was timely and disclosed that they will be training sets of 20 young Sierra Leoneans for six months with the aim to strengthening democracy in the country and will always engage young people on the need to participate in polling day.