COMMUNITY WORKSHOP ON CIVIC EDUCATION: PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RIGHTS
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The center for civic education in Maryland explains that Civic Education in a democracy is education in self government. Democratic self government means that citizens are actively involved in their own governance; they do not just passively accept the dictums of others or acquiesce to the demands of others. As Aristotle put it in his Politics (c 340 BC), “If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” In other words, the ideals of democracy are most completely realized when every member of the community shares in its governance. Members of the community are its citizens; hence citizenship in a democracy is membership in the body politic. Membership implies participation, but not participation for participation’s sake. Citizen participation in a democratic society must be based on informed, critical reflection, and on the understanding and acceptance of the rights and responsibilities that go with that membership.
Civic education in a democratic society most assuredly needs to be concerned with promoting understanding of the ideals of democracy and a reasoned commitment to the values and principles of democracy. On the other school of thought, Civics is the study of the theoretical, political and practical aspects of citizenship, as well as its rights and duties; the duties of citizens to each other as members of a political body and to the government.1 It includes the study of civil law and civil code, and the study of government with attention to the role of citizens―as opposed to external factors―in the operation and oversight of government.1
- First, programs seek to develop civic knowledge, which itself requires understanding of the principles and practice of democracy. As such, representative democracy, the rule of law, human rights, citizenship, civil society, and the market economy are important subject areas.
- Second, programs focus on building cognitive civic skills to enable participants to synthesize information on political and civic life and public issues.
- Third, civic education attempts to engender participatory civic skills such as working with others, collaborative deliberation and decision making, and how to peacefully influence debate.
- Finally, these programs work to instill civic dispositions such as support for human rights, equal rights, the importance of active political participation, and working to promote the common good.
A message of importance, therefore, is that politics need not, indeed must not, be a zero-sum game. The idea that “winner takes all” has no place in a democracy, because if losers lose all they will opt out of the democratic game. Sharing is essential in a democratic society-the sharing of power, of resources, and of responsibilities. In a democratic society the possibility of effecting social change is ever present, if citizens have the knowledge, the skills and the will to bring it about. That knowledge, those skills and the will or necessary traits of private and public character are the products of a good civic education.
From the above, it is clear that civic education is important in advancing social inclusion, including public participation and economic and social rights. The focus on social inclusion and citizenship through formal and non-formal learning also entails that special attention is paid to learners from vulnerable groups, including with a migrant background, from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, including gender and sexual minorities and learners with special needs.
In the light of this, Persons Marginalized and Aggrieved in Kenya (PEMA-Kenya) in partnership with Open Society Initiative of Eastern Africa (OSIEA) seeks to conduct a two days Civic Education workshop to 20 peer educators and violence response team including members of the GSM in Mombasa County.
The key objectives of the workshop include:
- To enhance understanding of the participants on the implementation of the economic and social rights with the linkage to civic education.
- To encourage collaboration of the participants with the public in promoting public participation and social inclusion.
- To instill civic disposition such as support for human rights and working to promote the common good.
- EXPECTED OUTPUT
- Collaboration among key stakeholders and the participants in promoting public participation.
- Development of an action plan by the participants to follow up on the recommendations made at the forum.
Published: Nov 21, 2017