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This article is taken from the November 2001 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

A national framework for civic education in Uganda

S&T Senior Partner David Everatt is the Team Leader for an EU-funded project in Uganda. The project represents another successful collaboration between S&T and South Consulting.

Civic education

Civic education is an important development tool. It is commonly defined in a fairly narrow fashion, focusing on voter education or specific rights-based initiatives. However, there is a growing move to define civic education in far broader terms to include a wide range of issues from health to literacy and so on. This stems in part from the growing popularity of ‘rights-based’ campaigns, as well as the fact that for citizens to execute their civic duties appropriately, they need to know far more than how to mark a ballot paper every five years.

This seems a seductively logical argument, but it creates a series of challenges. Narrowly defined civic education campaigns – some of them, anyway – have been hugely successful. Examples include the pre-1994 voter education in South Africa, and the public participation and education campaigns run by the Constitutional Assembly. However, civic education in such instances benefited from a single-issue focus, a national groundswell of public and media attention, and a defined end-date. Seeking to broaden civic education requires de-linking it from these factors.

Across Africa, constitutionalism is growing. Constitutional reviews, referenda and similar processes have been taking place from Zimbabwe to Eritrea, Uganda to Kenya (similar processes have been occurring in developing countries beyond Africa). South Africa is regarded as the most successful of these initiatives. Others have been bogged down in disputation or conflict as different interests clash over the nature and scope of their constitutional processes. One of the key points of disagreement has been the extent to which ordinary citizens can or cannot play a meaningful role, and the kind of inputs that can improve such participation. Constitution-making has become an important site of contestation and popular mobilisation; the profile of civic education has risen alongside it.

Civic education in Uganda

In Uganda, civic education has focused on voter education for elections, and more recently the 2000 referendum. However, both civil society organisations (CSOs) and donors expressed increasing disquiet about the fragmented nature of civic education as well as its narrowness.

As a result, a group of northern donors issued a tender for devising a national framework for on-going civic education that would incorporate donors, CSOs and the government of Uganda (GoU). The framework has to be impact-oriented, and must include mechanisms for achieving co-ordination across implementers as well as rigorous performance measurement.

South Consulting approached S&T to tender for the job, with S&T’s David Everatt as Team Leader, and we won the job. S&T has had a long and successful working relationship with South. In Kenya, the two companies designed the National Civic Education Programme where donors pool their funds and source it to CSO consortia for civic education. We jointly undertook a Programme Finalisation Mission for Danida in Kenya, and collaborated on evaluations and other projects inside South Africa.

Outputs

The project will stretch over three months, ending in December 2001. The first fieldwork phase took place in September. David was joined by South MD Karuti Kanyinga and Ugandan consultant Nansozi Muwanga in a series of workshops with donors, government officials and CSOs. Nansozi is currently managing a series of in-depth interviews and workshops with CSOs, to ensure that they are able to engage with and understand the implications of the framework.

David will produce a draft civic education framework in early November, for circulation among all stakeholders. In mid-November, a two-day workshop will see all stakeholders come together to negotiate the framework – the services it provides, the focus and content of civic education, the requirements of the performance measurement system, and so on. The framework will be finalised in December.

 

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