Civic Education: Practical Guidance Note
From the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bureau for Development Policy - Democratic Governance Group, this Practical Guidance Note has four parts. It aims to:
- Heighten awareness and knowledge of Civic Education within UNDP country offices (COs).
- Assist COs by providing practical information and guidance for Civic Education programming.
- Signpost additional resources and further reading.
From the Executive Summary:
"Part One [Civic Education] defines Civic Education as learning for effective participation in democratic and development processes at both local and national levels..... This part of the guide ...underlines the strong link between civic education and capacity development for effective civic engagement. It states that Civic Education needs to be seen as a prerequisite for civic engagement and participation....The important role of Civic Education in contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development goals (MDGs) is articulated....
Part Two [Civic Education in Practice] focuses on the practicalities of Civic Education programming and presents some practical ways for COs to engage in this area....The section ... presents six possible ways of engaging in Civic Education: three of these address Civic Education within different thematic areas (electoral assistance, crisis prevention and recovery and HIV/AIDS) and three are modality based. Part Two concludes with a discussion of the importance of developing mechanisms to measure the impact of Civic Education programmes and presents a checklist of points to consider when programming in this area.
Part Three [Building Partnership for Civic Education] focuses on how UNDP can build progressive partnerships with a number of different actors. The range of likely partners is set out: national governments, CSOs [civil society organisations], the private sector, the media and political parties, and some of the principal issues arising from working with them are highlighted. The benefits of strong partnerships with other parts of the UN family are also emphasized. The final section of the paper,
Part Four, signposts additional resources and further reading."
The media partnership section includes the following factors as important considerations in UNDP’s partnerships with the media:
- Existing capacity of media organisations and their staff. In many cases this may be limited and staff may not be sufficiently skilled to develop and/or produce Civic Education messages.
- The balance between commercial and community media. Community-based/owned media are a very powerful tool but may suffer from resource and capacity constraints.
- The degree to which different media entities reach or are capable of reaching out to marginalised communities.
- Geographical coverage and communication infrastructure. Both may be limited in many countries and will inevitably be stronger in urban centres.
- Literacy levels are fundamental in Civic Education programming and can be a significant barrier if not addressed appropriately. It is therefore important to identify and support media outlets that are able to communicate to those that are not literate (e.g. community radio, street theatre, drama groups, etc.).
- Political orientation and support for democratic values. Some media entities may be directly linked with political parties and while this does not exclude partnerships it signals the need for caution to ensure that progressive Civic Education rather than political objectives is being served.
The document summarises the following as "Media Partnership Pointers":
- Ensure that partnerships with media groups serve the needs of the economically poor and marginalised. Pay particular attention to issues of literacy, geographical coverage, and cultural relevance.
- Consider prioritising the involvement of radio outlets, particularly community-based stations, as UNDP partners.
- Develop the capacity of UNDP's media partners, especially non-profit media and community-based media.
UNDP website accessed on June 16 2009.