DDP Executive Director, Dr. Paul Kariuki at the Civic Education Conference.
The Democracy Development Program hosted this year’s Civic Education Conference on 27 July 2022 at Elangeni Hotel. In partnership with One Voice, Independent Electoral Commission, Campaign for Free Expression, and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, the event was attend by a diverse audience that had interesting ideas for discourse. The theme of the discussion was The Role of Election Observers Missions – Creating Sustained Civic Education Efforts.
The contextual basis of the conference looked at the role of the civil society organizations and South Africa’s treatment of the role of Observers. Civil society organizations have a longstanding history of working towards the protection and advancement of peoples’ rights; which includes working towards transparency and good governance in developing countries by contributing to the public debate on issues surrounding the formulation and implementation of government policy as well as in supporting greater transparency on the way the public purse is utilized.
Civic education’s role in developing and consolidating shared democratic values and institutions is indisputable. Critical in this respect is the building of active citizenry; citizens that uphold the shared values and actively engage in public affairs as their rights and duties.
Much of the work of Election Observer organizations is only highlighted during the course of elections and shortly thereafter. Much can still be engaged as to whether the reports provided by the different organizations go anyway in terms of having a lasting impact on the legislative, policy, and administrative priorities of governments, electoral management bodies, and the public in general.
Ultimately, the DDP and its stakeholders hosted the conference to unpack if these concepts of Civic Education and Election Observation can have more concrete connections, particularly as it pertains to the re-framing of curricula and interventions towards ensuring that we have a more open, participatory and vibrant space for both political, and civic engagement.
Explore the relevance of election observation,
Identify the existing civic education delivery methods, identify the synergy among them and evaluate whether these remain appropriate;
Explore mechanisms to measure the impact of sustained civic education; and
To strengthen partnerships with stakeholders in the region
DDP thanks our guest speakers for their insights and cultivating an environment of crucial discourse regarding Observer Missions. Prof. Bheki Mngomezulu, Prof. Anton Harber, Dr. Nomsa Masuku, and Robyn Pasensie, thank you for your contributions. Incredible conversations and responses from our audience at the main venue and remote areas came up during the conference. All were ranging from a better understanding of the current state of civic education in SA, enhancement of the role of various stakeholders in improvising and maintaining civic education efforts; having a better understanding of various approaches, methodologies, and mechanisms of delivering civic education in the pandemic era; and looking at how stakeholders can measure the impact of the civic education interventions.
Such conversations excite DDP for the Women in Parliament Caucus on 5 August and the Women in Leadership Conference on 17 August 2022. We certainly look forward to hosting our audience there.
DDP's Dr. Paul, Kariuki, Sphamandla Mhlongo with delegates and partners (including Dr. Masuku, Dr. Hlongwane from the IEC, as well as Letlhogonolo Letshele from My Vote Counts) at the 4th Annual political summit.