It is evident that successful democracies around the world depend on the active participation of their citizens. And that it is only an informed citizen who can become an active citizen. Citizens of any society can be kept informed through Civic education. Where civic education is defined as the study of the rights and obligations of citizens in society. It is more about empowering citizens to be active, and it relates to behaviors affecting other citizens, particularly in the context of urban development.
In Uganda, the history of Civic Education dates to the colonial days. This education is provided for in the 1995 Constitution of The Republic of Uganda. The Constitution clearly provides for the creation and nurturing of a democratic society in which all citizens have a right to participate in the affairs of their government. Through Civic Education, there is the enhancement of people’s competence and opportunity to participate meaningfully and responsibly in self-governance.
Article 30 of the Constitution provides for the Right to education, where all persons in Uganda have an equal right to education. Further, Article 30(2) provides that, “every Ugandan has a right to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of government through civic organisations”.
Uganda is preserved as a “Democratic” country, where democracy means a system of governance in which power rests with the people. However, in Uganda under the dictatorial regime, civic education which was commonly known as “civics” or “political” education was intentionally scrapped off Uganda syllabus both in schools and tertiary institutions. This has left Ugandans deliberately uninformed on matters concerning government, democracy, and their political leaders.
The violation of the right to education by the “Museveni” regime has created a generation of very inactive citizens when it comes to the politics of their country. To date, some Uganda citizens still believe that politics does not concern them, and some citizens are simply too scared to even participate or even engage in politics. This is exactly what the dictatorial regime wants, very inactive citizens who only care or worry about the price of alcohol and worry about what time nightclubs open.
Why is civic education important?
- Civic education empowers citizens to understand the political environment enabling them to participate in the democratic process of their country. Hence, why civic education is sometimes referred to as democracy education.
- One basic component of civic education is that it provides citizens with knowledge; knowledge on their rights as Ugandan citizens. Through this kind of education, the ordinary Ugandan can be taught about the roles and functions of the government institutions and the role of parliament.
- Successful democracies depend on citizens in a way that citizens participate in checking the systems of governance and the elected leaders. Only this way can citizens hold leaders accountable, and demand that they fulfil their promises.
- Citizens are empowered by knowledge on how to maintain their rights and demand good governance from their elected leaders. It is through civic education that one learns what to do in support of democracy in their country, which knowledge is stipulated in the Uganda constitution.
Knowledge is power, if citizens are all aware of the power they hold, they can use it to a collective benefit. For example, citizens would use their constitutional rights like the right to basic education to demand better schools and education for all and claim their constitutional granted rights to improve their life situation. We would like to inspire fellow Ugandans to play an active role as defenders of democratic values, inclusive prosperity, and justice in our country Uganda. It is a collective, we can not just exist in one individual’s failed effort to micromanage 45million Ugandans.