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CIVIC EDUCATION AND ITS RELEVANCE IN KENYAN CONTEXT: A PROVIDER’S PERSPECTIVE
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ABSTRACT

Civic education in Kenya has become the catch word for Government, Civil Society, donors and commissions especially as we head towards 2013 elections. According to Grindle (2004), civic education, aims to teach people about their rights and responsibilities as part of a democratic society and for them to have a more accountable government. Indeed, public education, as an essential tool for citizen empowerment is clearly fundamental for a stronger democracy.

The point of departure for this study is that the process of civic education in Kenya has proved to be quite complex and the endeavour is unlikely to be effective unless identifiable gaps are filled. This study attempted to find out from a provider’s perspective if civic education has had any relevance in Kenya. It examined the relationship between knowledge on civic education, the extent of donor investments, role of Civil Society organizations in civic and overall effectiveness of civic education model in terms of themes, methodologies, strategies and targeting applied by Civic educators. The study attempted to provide a theoretical understanding civic education and its role in increasing public participation. Using the Diffusion of Innovation and the structuration theory, it explored how to effectively carry out public education and the communication needs therein.

The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to inform its research objectives. A survey research methodology was adopted whereby data was collected using structured questionnaires to interview 56 respondents. The survey respondents were programme officers drawn from selected NGOs which were engaged in civic education based in Nairobi. An interview guide was used on 8 Key Informants who represented the diversity of Kenyan civil society including women, Faith Based Organizations, youth and marginalized groups. The information was gathered from a sample selected purposeful to meet the objectives of the study.   The information gathered from the sampled population was analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

The study findings indicate that 80.4% of the organizations engaged in the provision of civic education are local NGOs. However, all the 80.4% get their funding, contents of their training curriculum/modules, evaluation of programs and directional focus from the donors. Indeed, 46.6% indicated that they would collapse without donor support. In the past, civic education has therefore been explicitly been a donor agenda.  However, it is worth noting that the Government of Kenya (GOK) has come out strongly since 2010 to be involved in setting the civic education agenda in Kenya. The study also found out that civic education providers have focused only on areas with ease of geographical accessibility.  More specifically, the study found that all NGOs engaged in civic education in Kenya are only able to reach 20 constituencies out of the 210 in the country; this was cited by respondents as a reason for low levels of effectiveness civic education in Kenya.

On recommendation, the study highlights there is need to target a younger generation in civic education so as to have a young group of citizens embracing civic duties. The government is also called upon to take up a more proactive stand in provision and supporting civic education exercises. The methodology of delivery needs to be considered by providers. Different categories of people appreciate different forms of reach; while the youth will prefer road shows; elderly members prefer community forums. The content also needs to be relevant and should incorporate livelihood topics which are of great interests to the citizenry. There is also need for local ownership of civic education by making it part of the national school curriculum.