In its quest to re-introduce Civic Education into the country’s educational curriculum, the National Commission for Democracy (NCD) has commenced a two day stakeholders’ workshop to develop a national non-formal curriculum on Civic Education at the Makambo Village Resort in Makeni.
The event which commenced today, Friday, July 28, 2017 engaged the services of a lead facilitator and curriculum development experts drawn from universities, colleges, civil society organizations, the Tertiary Education Commission, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology and a host of other institutions with the relevant expertise in the field of education.
In his keynote address, the Chairman of NCD, Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo, noted that the event marks a milestone in the history of the Commission as they engaged the services of experts in education to develop a non-formal curriculum on Civic Education which will address the education needs of the chunk of the Sierra Leonean populace who are not fortunate to go through the formal system of education.
Dr. Kargbo posited that very few Sierra Leoneans are fortunate to go through formal education but the majority who are not fortunate to receive formal education should be provided for in the non-formal sector so that they would be educated enough to exercise their civic duties and responsibilities and be in a position to participate from an enlightened position. He noted that the Commission would continue to put premium on Civic Education in order to produce an informed citizenry.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman for the occasion, who also doubles as the host Commissioner and focal person for Performance Contract with State House, Bai John Conteh, noted that Sierra Leone is at a point where critical decisions should be reached for the development of the Country.
He reminded his audience that one of the core functions of NCD is to provide Civic Education with a view to promoting an enhanced citizenry even as he informed the meeting that the Commission is assigned with the task of re-introducing Civic Education into the school curriculum an endeavor that it has been working on tirelessly to achieve since it is one of its core mandate from State House.
He said the engagement of education experts to develop a curriculum for the non-formal sector is part of the commission’s drive to achieving its mandate of bringing back Civics into the school curriculum. Commissioner Conteh expressed the Commission’s appreciation to UNDP for approaching it to implement this project saying that the Commission wants to do more but it is constrained by lack of finances that is the more reason why the Commission is more than willing to implement this project when it was approached by UNDP.
The Lead Facilitator, Principal University of Makeni, Rev. Father, Professor Joseph A. Turay, noted that the nomenclature be changed from Civic Education to Citizens Education in order to make it more appealing and interesting to the public. He noted that the universities also need to play a critical role in creating an informed and active citizenry to contribute meaningfully to the country’s democratic good governance.
The Deputy Chairman, Bombali District Council, John Ditto Kamara, recognized the effort of the Commission in the Northern Region with regards educating the public on their civic rights and duties. He said Civic Education enhances awareness among citizens and improves on quality citizen’s participation whilst further noting that Civic Education brings about political tolerance, quality participation and good governance even as he encouraged the Commission to continue with its good work of educating the people about their rights and duties as citizens.
The Head of the Non-Formal Sector in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Madam Olive Musa, noted that Civic Education for the non-formal sector is crucial in acquiring education for all even as she applauded NCD for taking the lead in bring Civic Education back into the school curriculum. Defining Civic Education, Madam Musa said it focuses on the delivery of knowledge, skills and desirable attitude with regards to rights and responsibilities of citizens whilst noting that non-formal education refers to any organized educational provision outside the formal school system, whether operating separately or as part of a broader educational activity that is intended for clarity, identified clientele with clearly defined learning objectives and outcomes.
Expressing her expectations at the end of the two day workshop, Madam Musa said the content for the Civic Education non-formal curriculum stream should endeavor to cover as much as possible in the content areas of democracy, role of citizens in promoting democracy, role of civil society groups, political entities, and governance structures in promoting democracy. She further stated that the non-formal education should operate in parallel with the formal education as the two complement each other. She assured the Commission that her department will help to disseminate the document to institutions across the country.
The Director of Education at the Sierra Leone Labor Congress, Max-Conteh, noted that a large portion of its membership is in the non-formal sector and most of them he said were not fortunate to have formal education and as a result the union has resorted to educating its membership through Civic Education. He said the union applauds the idea of developing a curriculum for the non-formal sector which the union would definitely utilize to educate members of its constituent more so at a time when the union is working on rebranding its activities. Mr. Conteh assured the Commission of the union’s determination to collaborate with the Commission. Alluding to messages posted on social media and sometimes articles published on newspapers, Mr. Conteh argued that Civic Education will not only be of relevance to the so-called uneducated class of our society, but even the educated ones who share or publish unethical comments on social media and newspapers, respectively, he referred to as uncivilized .