Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Experts say there is an urgent need to promote civic education in Uganda in order to build a civically competent citizenry that gets actively involved in the country’s development agenda.
Civic education is about creating awareness and consciousness in citizens for them to take action about issues that affect them.
Ronnie Mbabali, a trainer of Civil Service College in Jinja, says the current state of civic education is not adequate because the citizens do not have the mindset to get involved and put development actors to task.
“The state of civic education in Uganda is actually not bad, but there is a lot to be done. Ugandans know their rights, but I think the biggest issue is attitude and ‘how to’,” he said
“But even when we know our rights, we have tried to get to realize them but in an unsustainable way, in a conflicting manner and, causing more commotion… if we can only appreciate that I have a right but also have a duty to play towards the development of our society, my community and my country, then it will be ok.”
According to Mbabali, a civically competent citizenry takes charge of its future and participates in actively in development processes.
“If we become civic aware as citizens of this country, then we become contributors to our own development. That promotes equity and balanced development because everyone will know this is our development and I must participate,” he said.
Mbabali says Ugandans have to shift from lamenting to demanding for public goods and services, as well as doing their part.
According to Mbabali, the government and other stakeholders including civil society should rethink the need to promote civic education in the country.
Jonah Jackson Bakalirwa, the Assistant Commissioner for National Guidance in the information ministry, also says civic education has lost its appeal in government, civil society, and the citizens.
“The reality is that civic education lost vigor and space in government and CSOs. For exampley, civic education was phased out from the syllabus,” he said.
According to Bakalirwa revival of civic education in the curriculum would go a long way in reigniting the consciousness of Ugandans about their country and the possibilities for development.
Up to the 1980s Civics, a subject that focused on civic education was taught at primary level, while political education was at Ordinary level.