A well-informed
citizen generally performs positively and contributes remarkably to the growth
of a community and the world at large. Understanding one’s rights, duties and
responsibilities, is a pre-requisite for one to be a well-informed citizen and
Civic education is one of the main platforms of doing so. Provision of the
necessary knowledge and skills is one of fundamentals of Civic education. On
that score, ‘Civic education remains an important means of teaching citizens
about the rights, duties and responsibilities’, and there are various ways
through which people can gain Civic education. Evidently, Civic education takes
place throughout society, both in public and private domains (Levinson, 2014).
However, to ensure that all the people access this education, various groups
should implement programs in an inclusive, open and credible manner, including
‘reaching those who seldom
participate in the political life of the country’ (McCracken,
unknown year). Thus in this assignment, various groups that provide Civic education
have been discussed.

 

To start with
Schools are the major providers of Civic education, through formal and informal
learning, (Branson, 1998). According to Branson, school is like the ’embryo
community institution’ in which a child is a member, ‘beginning in early years through the entire
educational process’ (Branson, 1998). This implies that if civic educational programs were
well administered in schools then citizens would be very knowledgeable by the
time they leave school since they are part of the school community for a large
portion of their lives. To ensure quality delivery schools are structured with
suitable curricular, which are implemented by trained teachers or educators.
The curriculum is offered as a standard subject (Civics) and is designed with
content that is coherent with the various age groups in schools. In addition,
professional development opportunities should be made available for teachers to
gain competence in teaching the subject (Levinson, 2014). The curricular thus should
allow for both the theory and practical skills to be delivered through formal
learning and informal learning respectively.

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 It should be noted that formal learning should
happen in the classroom and should equip the citizens with civic knowledge,
which is the content or the subject matter, (Branson, 1998). During formal
learning citizens should be taught the various rights and responsibilities that
they need to exercise so that they discover their potential to contribute to
community and national development. It is during this stage that citizens
become aware of their importance in the community. They also learn to
understand the values of other citizens and how they can collaborate with one
another to bring unity in their communities. In addition, citizens begin to
understand the purpose of politics and government and how their involvement in
political life and civic society can help them to foster development in their
communities and the nation at large (Branson, 1998).

 

 On the other hand, informal learning should
incorporate school governance and co-curricular activities (Branson, 1998). In this
case, school governance relates to such activities as student councils,
selection of prefects, just to mention two.  These form what could be described as ‘school
politics’ in which citizens learn some leadership skills as well as political
hierarchs. Co-curriculum activities encompass sports, clubs and community service.
In these activities citizens have chances of taking up leadership roles such as
team captain, student coach and so on. Furthermore, citizens have opportunities
to interact with members of their communities and learn how to solve some of
the community problems (Delaloye, 2016).

 

A family structure
is another source of civic education, with parents being the ‘key players’ in
its delivery. To ensure that citizens gain the necessary education and skills
from the family, it is imperative that parents provide encouragement to their
children to follow current affairs and to develop interest in civic matters
(Levinson, 2014). Moreover, family conversations can be held around the dinner
table in which children can learn to debate current events (Levinson, 2014).
Parents can also spend time to teach the children various civic skills such as
‘how to speak up, and when to keep their heads down and comply with the
dictates of others’ (Levinson, 2014). It is definitely from these family
engagements that citizens start learning leadership skills and how to engage in
bigger debates. In my view the family encouragement nurtures confidence in the
citizen to take up challenging responsibilities in their communities and the
nation at large.

 

Religious institutions
are another provider of Civic education. Education is provided through several
teachings that happen during religious gatherings. For instance, young children
belong to what is called Sunday school or ‘Awana’ in the case of Christian
institutions. During these gatherings children are taught, for instance, how to
address different types of people. They are also engaged in performances that
promote teamwork and unity. On top of that, they learn how to recite some
Biblical scriptures, which they present as ‘memory verses’ in large groups of
people. All these activities teach them how to be involved in the community and
make them confident at expressing themselves hence being able to exercise their
right of expression. On the other hand, older citizens are exposed to political
talks, especially in religious sects such as the Catholic Church, where leaders
teach people their legal rights and freedom to participate in politics and
governance. Conversely,
religious Civic education plays a critical role in a citizen’s political life (McCracken,
unknown year)

 

Civic education
is also provided through the media which generally refers to the radio,
television, social media, newspapers and so on. Although the media may not
provide formal learning, it can be a viable source of civic information if
necessary programs are included. For instance, political interviews can be
broadcast for citizens to gain an insight in political and governance skills.
Citizens can also be sensitized on rights and responsibilities by bringing in
officials to discuss constitutional matters and human rights. Besides
interviews, the media can also provide Civic education through dramas and songs,
which are designed to convey educational messages (McCracken, unknown year). In addition, leaflets,
brochures, posters and other literature can be circulated at traffic rights and
road junctions to disseminate messages.  Equally important is the media’s role as a
tool for sensitising citizens about their rights to take part in elections.

 

Political
parties educate people
on important national issues such as corruption, democratic rights and
responsibilities, and public service delivery. They also sensitize citizens on
possible solutions to national issues through platforms like political rallies,
social media, newspapers, radio, television among others. To fill the gap between
political platforms of Civic education which sometimes tend to malign a section
of citizens and the general citizenry, civil society acts as the platform for
acquisition of non-biased information. It is usually the case that civil society
lobby governments on behalf of a community for the betterment of its people.
This involves giving enlightenment to people in various sectors of political,
economic and social life which influences citizens to learn governments
policies in an informed way. Consequently, this helps citizens to participate
actively in communal or national affairs and monitor their progress as well as
offering positive criticism. Thus hand in hand with the political structures of
a nation, civil society is a salient link voice that influences societal change
through the advocacy of people’s aspirations.

 

In the Zambian
context civil society include professional bodies such as the Law Association
of Zambia (LAZ) and other groupings of individuals with specialized knowledge
and skills in various areas. Using their knowledge base these groupings are a
very important tool in facilitating Civic education to a cross section of
citizen for the purposes of making the government accountable, transparent and
effective in its service delivery to its citizens. Apart from professional
organizations, there are various non-governmental organisations that provide
Civic education in a number of forums. In the Zambian context the umbrella body
of these organizations, the Non-Government Organizations Coordinating Committee
(NGOCC) regulates the activities of the member organs. Some of these are
concerned with particular interests such as Women for Change which fosters
welfare through community education, radio and television programs and skills
training to improve their standard of living.

 

In conclusion, human resource sustenance and
development can be highly enhanced through various forms of Civic education.
Retrospectively, society is embedded with numerous cardinal knowledge and
skills systems of Civic education, which heighten the wellbeing of people. Just
as it is the duty of both government and non-government institutions to
undertake the teaching of Civic education, it is equally individuals’
responsibility to acquire and utilise the imparted knowledge to the improvement
of their livelihoods and the community at large. Indeed, the role Civic
education plays in human progress cannot be overemphasised but appreciated for
that much needed civility and human unity.