Civic education can be broadly defined as ‘the provision of information and learning experiences to equip and empower citizens to participate in democratic processes’. The education can take very different forms, including classroom-based learning, informal training, experiential learning, and mass media campaigns. Civic education can be targeted at children or adults, at the local, national or international level.
Several civic education programmes implemented in Africa are identified, aspects of which have been discussed as good practice examples by various researchers and evaluators. They are:
- Kenya’s National Civic Education Programme (URAIA)
- Peace-building and citizenship education in Angola (PECE I and II)
- Support to Civic Education Project / UNDP Trust Fund for Civic Education (Angola)
- Street Law Programme (‘Democracy for All’), South Africa
- Africa Good Governance Programme on the Radio Waves
From reviews of the programmes listed above, as well as other evaluations, institutional arrangements and programme frameworks must take a number of factors into consideration. Key recommendations include:
- Decide if the programme will be broad-based or narrow/targeted.
- Recognise multiple programme goals and integrate these goals into programme organisation, planning, and implementation.
- Adopt a continuous programme of civic education delivery.
- Devote considerably more effort to impact assessment using appropriately rigorous evaluation methodologies.
- Ensure the coordinating agency is credible and capable.
- Decide on the target group.
- Decide on the main message(s).
- Work towards democratic culture and public sphere.
Evaluations also highlight a number of factors that are critical for success in civic education programmes. Each one highlights three core features of successful programmes:
1. Conduct frequent sessions and expose audience to messages repeatedly.
2. Use participatory training methods whenever possible.
3. Ensure that trainers are authoritative, respected and are able to inspire.