Join the Discussion: Creating Active Citizen in Africa - the Role of Media and Communication

As stated in a recent article about the elections in West Africa, one of the essential ingredients for a lively democracy are citizens that are schooled in democratic principles as this allows them to play an active role in protecting democracy against anti-democratic forces. (See "Senegal, Mali and Democracy: Lessons for West Africa’s New Democracies" by Oladayo Olaide from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) )

  • Firstly, do you agree?
  • What role are the media and other communication initiatives (eg.those using mass media campaigns, community media, interpersonal communication etc.) playing in promoting active citizens and by extension civic education in Africa? Let us know about your projects/activities or other projects you know about.
  • What has made some of these initiatives successful and what have been some of the challenges?
  • What else can and should be done by the media and communication practitioners working in the field of D & G to promote active citizens and successful civic education initiatives?

We would love to hear about your views, experiences, and ideas. Do you agree with the above statement? And what role are the media and communication initiatives playing in promoting active citizens and by extension civic education in Africa?

Please tick "Notify All Users" at the bottom of the comment form as this will ensure that an email notification is sent to all members of this network.

We look forward to your contributions.

Best wishes, Anja Venth Editor Soul Beat Africa

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I agree that Education is

I agree that Education is important in promoting democracy in Africa. It is a powerful tool to format the brain of learners into civic participation, the respect of institutions, the rule of law and good governance. A true educational system that is geared to these principles is the only solution to lift African nations from the mess of corruption and illegal practices.

I believe that education is the only factor that can lead African youngsters to experience a paradigm shift and realize that social conditioning factors that shaped their existence and that ultimately target individual interests (and impunity depending on one’s social or religious status) is a threat to democracy and the stability of the continent. Education favors the need of contractions and free debate rather than the use of physical force. It also teaches the notion of accountability in people’s actions and deeds.

Even the press in Senegal and Africa in general could have played this role if they were not domesticated by ruling authorities and political parties. Truly, the Press has triggered a new consciousness about citizenship in Africa. This is particularly true for the media that broadcast some relevant information in local languages because they enable the illiterate people (the majority of citizens) to make a judgement of their own about good and shady dealings of political authorities.

When I was actively teaching, I coached my learners into developing their own school journal with articles that were exclusively on democratic principles and the obstacles to democratic governance. Such a project is essential to promote democracy through education. They enable learners to assess their own society in reference to democratic standards but also they lead them to realize the challenges they have to fave in the future as active citizens to fight againt anti-democratic practices.

However, one of the challenges of projects like these is that learners sometimes have genuine problems to convey their ideas as they wish in a target language. In addition, there are logistical problems such as printing machines. This project could be improved if it involved many schools. For example national competitions on democratic governance between regional and national schools could have been organized with the assistance of the media.


Democracy we need now to

Democracy we need now to deliever servies and goods where as education has to go in parallel with democracy. So we has to balance these processes in an integrated manner.

To: Soul Beat Africa

To: Soul Beat Africa Democracy and Governance Network

I quite agree that education has a crucial role to play in establishing virile and vibrant democracy in Africa. A very large population of voting adults in Africa are either semi-literate or not literate at all. It therefore becomes imperative to educate them in order that they may be actively engaged in the democratic process.

My worry however is that the educated elites who make up the ruling class are steeped in such unconscionable craze for wealth that defies words. One therefore wonders what form of education that is needed. Is it the same kind of education that produced the present crop of educated Africans?

Yes, there is great and indeed urgent need to educate Africans in order that they may become involved in the process of democracy. But much more than literary education, I think what we need in Africa for the entrenchment of true democracy is the education of the mind. We need leaders who have been liberated from the monster of unmitigated acquisitory tendencies as much as we need followers who are ready to hold their leaders accountable to ensure that they perform creditably while in office. The followers must be ready to take responsibility for the type of leaders they put in positions of leadership.

At the moment, there is a disconnect between the education which the political elites possess and the quality of leadership they offer. There must be a kind of education that marries literary education with character.

Education plays a major role

Education plays a major role in establishing vibrant democracy but education is not the only factor; I believe the dishonesty of purpose by most african leaders also play a major role in the lack of true democratic governance we see in africa

Real education is very vital

Real education is very vital to the Democratic nation unless people are bribed for their rights. Most of African leaders are using peoples( citizens) to let their issues to be successfully while some are benefiting from the National CAKE. But through Education people will liberate themselves and hence promote democracy among the nation.

Hi Everyone, I have been

Hi Everyone,

I have been following the discussion with interest and Anja asked if I would jump in to summarize the discussion while she was away. Not to end it but hopefully to spark more dialogue!

All of you feel strongly that education is a powerful tool and important for the development of stronger democratic institutions in Africa. However, you also warn that it is not the entire answer. Many undemocratic rulers in Africa (and elsewhere!) are educated and yet use their positions for personal gain. To instil democratic principles we need to consider what kind of education will foster ideals of responsibility and service in future leaders and the right of those not in leadership positions to hold leaders accountable.

There was also an interesting point about the role of media in education and outreach to illiterate people through local languages.

One of the original questions resonates with many of the comments so far: What role should media and other less traditional but important educational tools such as local media play?

And a few new questions have been raised: What kind of educational system will help develop principles of responsibility and accountability?

If it is important to democratize education so that it is not a source of power for a few can both political and educational democratization happen at the same time?

I hope this captures some of the important points made so far and possibly sparks a few responses.


Hi to everyone in the D & G

Hi to everyone in the D & G network,

I am back and ready to continue moderating this discussion. We recently posted this document, published by the Governance and Social Development Research Centre (GSDRC), on the D & G theme site which I thought may be of interest to you and this discussion: Approaches to Civic Education in Africa

The aim of this report is to present examples of "best practice civic education programmes in African countries" and summarise some of their key features and success factors. It includes a discussion on the following African projects: - Kenya’s National Civic Education Programme (URAIA) - Peace-building and citizenship education in Angola (PECE I and II) - Support to Civic Education Project / UNDP Trust Fund for Civic Education (Angola) - Street Law Programme ('Democracy for All'), South Africa - Africa Good Governance Programme on the Radio Waves

The report looks at some of the strategies used in civic education programmes which include seminars and workshops; training of trainers; peer-to-peer learning; drama and role-plays; radio and television; information technologies (blogs, internet forums); and other informal teaching and information sharing methods. It also includes some interesting recommendations to consider when implementing civic education programmes, particularly around making content relevant, ensuring the participation of women and other vulnerable and key groups, and the need to look at the duration and scope of activities.

If you have been running similar projects, please let us know about your strategies, experiences and lessons learned around implementation. Do you agree with some of the recommendations outlined in the document and do you have any others to add? To respond, you can either reply to this email or comment online at (you will need to log in).

We look forward to hearing from you. Best wishes, Anja

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D & G Network, Great Resource on Citizen Education

The PG Exchange, an initiative of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, has published a Citizen Education Toolkit, which offers this definition of Citizen Education: “Civic education (also known as citizen education or democracy education) can be broadly defined as the provision of information and learning experiences to equip and empower citizens to participate in democratic processes. The education can take very different forms, including classroom-based learning, informal training, experiential learning, and mass media campaigns. Civic education can be targeted at children or adults, in developed or developing countries, and at the local, national or international level. As such, civic education is an approach that employs a range of different methods, and is often used in combination with other participatory governance tools.”

The toolkit offers the following sections:
*What is it?
*How is it done? *Benefits *Challenges and lessons *Key Resources *Supplementary Resources *Case Studies To access this toolkit, go to

The case studies are interesting although quite old - so if you want to share any of your more recent casestudies or project descriptions from Africa, we would love to hear from you. (If you have a weblink, just hit reply on this email but if you want to send an attachment you will need to log in to attach it online).

Best wishes, Anja

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D & G network,

We would like encourage you to share your projects, research, and/or resource materials around civic education in Africa through this forum. We are planning a special issue of The Soul Beat e-newsletter (which reaches over 16,000 subscribers from across Africa and globally) on Civic Education – the Role of Media and Communication in which your submitted projects/research/resources will be featured.

If your information is available online, you can just reply to this email and send a link, or you can post an attachment by submitting a comment online by logging in here

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to raise them in this forum or you can contact me at Also, if you know of any organisations involved in civic education, please forward this request to them. They can register here by selecting “Join Soul Beat Africa: Democracy and Governance Network”.

Best wishes, Anja

Hi to the D & G network, I

Hi to the D & G network, I just did a quick search on the Soul Beat Africa website, and found these two resources on civic education:

Civic Education for Media Professionals: A Training Manual This manual, published by UNESCO in 2009, looks at the relationship between media and active citizenship.

Civic Education and Community Mobilisation: Train-the-Trainer Manual Published by the Netherlands institute for Southern Africa (NiZA) in 2005, the aim of this manual is to assist trainers to reach grassroots people more effectively with civic education and community mobilisation workshops.

They are not the most recent publications, but I hope you will find them useful to your work. If you have any comments about these resources or any other resoruces to share, we would love to hear from you.
Best wishes, Anja

Hi folks - on this subject of

Hi folks - on this subject of Active Citizens and Democracy and Governance I just wanted to quickly draw your attention to this blog by Noelina Nabwire in Kenya

"What Role Should the Media Play in Determining the Content of Campaign Advertisements?

That the media is an essential tool in any functioning democracy is not in doubt. What are the motives behind the various contents contained in the media? This question of motives becomes more pronounced during the electioneering period as is the case in Kenya.

The media reports on the happenings in society, oftentimes from the viewpoint of the journalist reporting the news. The legitimacy of the content of the media reports is occasionally contested with some alleging that they are exaggerated, misrepresented or distorted in view of what really occurred…."

The full text is at We would all be very interested in your views. Please do review and comment here on any possible links you may see between the views expressed and theme of this dialogue.

Thanks - Warren

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D

Hi to the Soul Beat Africa D & G network, Here is a civic education project which we recently posted on the D & G website: Strengthening Civic Education in Primary Schools (SCEPS) This 5 year project, led by the Ethiopian Scouts Association (ESA) and PACT Ethiopia, is working in over 500 primary schools in Ethiopia and is designed to provide training and opportunities for children to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to become responsible and actively engaged citizens.

As mentioned before, we would like to encourage you to share your projects, research, and/or resource materials around civic education in Africa through this forum. We are planning a special issue of The Soul Beat e-newsletter (which reaches over 16,000 subscribers from across Africa and globally) on Civic Education – the Role of Media and Communication in which your submitted projects/research/resources will be featured. Just hit reply on this email to send information.

Best wishes, Anja

Hi to the D & G

Hi to the D & G network,

Here another item we recently posted on the Soul Beat Africa D & G website which looks at how communication and media are promoting civic education in the DRC:
The Voter Opinion and Involvement through Civic Education (VOICE) Program, run by International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), was designed to educate citizens of the DRC about decentralisation and the electoral cycles, as well as motivate citizens, particularly marginalised groups, to engage in government and participate in elections. For more information and a video interview on the impact of the project, go to

Best wishes, Anja

Dear D & G network, Related

Dear D & G network, Related to our forum on "Creating Active Citizens in Africa - the Role of Media and Communication", here are two summaries from the Soul Beat Africa Democracy and Governance website that deal with civic education in schools.

School Parliament Program Angola Search for Common Ground (SFCG) launched this project in 2009 in an effort to foster a culture of democracy and civic engagement amongst youth in Angola. For more info, go to

Understanding Democracy: A Guide to the Principles of Democracy Produced by The Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID), this guide is designed to serve as a resource for developing civic education curriculums in schools, as well as for formal and informal civic education programmes in institutions of learning, by civil society organisations, and within society as a whole. For more info, go to

To submit your information or comment, click on the read more link below or simply reply to this email.
Best wishes, Anja

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