As from today, the YUVA Academy is participating in a three-day Regional Civic Education Conference at Pretoria, South Africa. The Conference aims to together Civic Education practitioners, CSOs, State actors and other relevant stakeholders from the SADC region to deliberate on the current state of the civic engagement, and create a better platform to share best practices and lessons learnt.
Southern African Civic Education Conference (SACEC)
The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) primary purpose is to spearhead the regional integration and development agenda. Its objectives are inter alia “to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people and to evolve common political values, systems and institutions” (Art. 5 of SADC Treaty). These are also reflected in the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation as well as the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ (SIPO). The latter refers to specific actions and initiatives to be taken in order to promote the development of democratic institutions and practices by state parties and encourages the observance of universal human rights (Objective 4).
The evolution of shared values, development of democratic institutions, and enhancement of democracy and good governance are in essence the means as well as the aims of citizens‘ participation in decision-making processes at all societal levels: local, national, regional as well as continental. In fact, the SADC Treaty explicitly states that “… peoples of the Region and their institutions [should be encouraged] to take initiatives… and to participate fully in the implementation of the programmes and projects of SADC”. Participation in political processes, such as nation-building and regional integration and development, is a fundamental citizens’ right. Participation, if and when effectively and constructively promoted, can contribute to the emergence of a strong sense of citizenry as a shared democratic value, that shapes the attitudes and behaviours of members of societies.
Civic education plays a pivotal role in the promotion of social accountability by creating awareness, enhancing knowledge and strengthening the skills of citizens to participate effectively in democratic and developmental processes. Non-formal civic education outside the formal school system helps to provide platforms for public participation and citizen-state dialogue.
Throughout the SADC region, a multitude of state institutions and civil society organisations promote civic education for public participation. However, policy frameworks and methodological approaches are diverse and there is a need to provide platforms for exchange and learning amongst practitioners. By convening a conference for civic education initiatives in the region a conversation can be started to explore both the interest and benefits of creating a regional platform for practitioners in civic education in the SADC region.
The Southern African Civic Education Conference (SACEC) serves as a platform:
- For participants to discuss the current state of affairs of Civic Engagement in the SADC Region;
- For stakeholders in SADC member states to share good practice and lessons learnt; and
- For practitioners in civic education to explore the formation of a community of practice.
- Can national civic education be an instrument for the promotion of regional values?
- How can the sustainability of civic education be ensured?
- How is civic education delivered (methods and approaches) across the region/continent? And what are the success factors?
- Should civic education be standardised and/or regulated?
- How are stakeholders delivering civic education coordinated?
An interactive and innovative methodology will be employed. The participants will be joined by their colleagues in their respective countries through online participation and twitter inputs/questions. The conference is built around input papers and commissions for sub-topics. Formats used include keynote presentations; panel discussions; roundtables; commissioned workshops; marketplace.
A consolidated report of the conference, with a compendium of contributions on civic education in the SADC Region from different perspectives both in print and digital (website) format.
State and civil society stakeholders involved in civic education activities in their respective countries (e.g. NGOs, Electoral Commissions).
The SACEC is supported by the Botswana based regional programme “Support to Peace, Security and Good Governance in the SADC Region” (PSGG), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).