Over the years, Civic Education as a subject has become a major component of inculcating moral, culture and values into children in primary schools across the country.
The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) recently presented Electoral Education Curriculum and Teacher’s Guide for primary schools in a move to use the civic education curriculum to strengthen the nation’s electoral process.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, the Executive Secretary, NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to reinforce the fabrics of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.
Junaidu said since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process has remained an issue of concern.
He attributed the situation to lack of adequate electoral knowledge.
“Promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.
He said it was against this background that the Council was partnered with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.
According to him, the curriculum had been developed to expose young learners to rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active participation in the democratic process.
“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: Equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, role of elections in democracy and good governance.
“It also strives to develop consciousness of learners about their rights and obligation in the electoral process and sensitise learners on the benefits of political participation to the stability of Nigeria.
“It also seeks to prepare learners for active participation in the electoral process,” he said.
He said the curriculum contents have been infused into the National Values Curriculum where the contents would be taught as part of the civic education.
On teachers’ guide, Junaidu said it was meant to ensure the effective implementation of the curriculum.
“The Teacher’s Guide is paramount in achieving the objectives of electoral education, and to properly prepare teachers and school managers for effective implementation of the curriculum,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Festus Okoye of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said electoral education is important the nation’s effort to consolidate on democracy and good governance.
Okoye, who is the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC, said democracy is a work in progress and required constant refining.
“And being a work in progress it has to be planted, nurtured and tendered,” Okoye said.
According to him in the process of building democracy the operators of democracy and the operators of democratic institutions must believe in its ideology and also understand its trajectories.
“This is because democracy cannot exist without the democrats; it cannot exist without people believing in these values and cultures of the democracy.
“Electoral education is a specialised area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.
“For the 2023 Nigeria general elections, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.
“And these presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps.
“The assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students in federal tertiary institutions in their penultimate year,” he said.
Okyoye said a national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education would help in preparing young people democratic challenges ahead.
“It will also prepare them on how to respect other races and equip them with the necessary leadership skill.
“If we have electoral education infused into our daily lives, into the curriculum of our secondary schools and universities it will completely rebuild the electoral system in the country,” he said.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, while commending the management of NERDC for the initiative said curriculum has become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.
Adamu says the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education are in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP).
“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education.
“The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development,” he said.
The President, IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.
The revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early in life to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.
“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms.
“In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.
To consolidate on Nigeria electoral process it is vital young people, as leaders of tomorrow are led to the path of responsible political participation.