The Citizen Handbook


Introduction


Civic Education

Why Does Civic Education Matter?

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 promotes public participation at all levels of governance. This participation is only possible when the public is educated on issues affecting their lives and how to influence the relevant decision-makers of such issues. In this regard, civic education is a critical tool for enhancing public participation. Civic education, for example, informs community members of government development plans and their contribution to ensure the implementation of the plan is successful. Moreover, civic education helps citizens challenge the necessity or legitimacy of specific government policies and actions. Citizen can better contribute to the development of their country when they know how their government works and how to support issues important to them.
 
Some examples of civic education include:

  • attending a public forum organized by local leaders to understand how local elected officials make decisions on community issues;
  • participating in a discussion on a government policy affecting the community (e.g. the introduction of new laws on waste management, proper usage of water, etc.); and
  • educating the community about a proposed public or private development in their area and the potential impact this may have

Civic education informs citizens of major social economic and political issues that affect their lives. It also educates citizens on their specific civic roles and responsibilities, which will help them to:

  • be active participants in democratic processes such as the election of leaders and referenda;
  • build better advocacy skills and increase levels of understanding of their constitution;
  • engage authorities (i.e. public officers, politicians, civil servants, police, medical health officers, teachers, councillors, etc.) on a regular basis;
  • promote public understanding of the rights and responsibilities required of citizens to maintain and improve good governance, proper leadership, the rule of law and democratic principles; and
  • keep their fellow citizens informed about government initiatives and encourage greater citizen participation in service delivery and other related issues.

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