By Olimatou Coker
National Council for Civic Education has recently wrapped up training community structures on civic education and inclusive participation in decision making at the grassroots.
The training was aimed at promoting and enhancing civic awareness among the decentralized structures especially the youths, women and PWDs for their increase inclusion and participation in decision-making and sustainable grassroots development.
Speaking at the closing, Ansumana Ceesay, senior program officer of NCCE, said inclusive participation and consultation is vital in ensuring sustainability development and shared prosperity while ensuring rights of all individuals are respected.
The training was held under the theme “Inclusive participation: Building Local Capacities for Sustainable Grassroots Development”.
The activity involves twelve (12) training sessions in three administrative regions of Upper River Region (URR), Central River Region (CRR) & Lower River Region (LRR) from the 11th to 22nd May, 2022.
Four (4) training sessions were conducted in each of the selected regions. A total of 420 participants were drawn from VDCs, WDCs, alkalolou, chiefs, lady councilors, Multidisciplinary Facilitation Teams (MDFTs), Mothers’ Club and People With Disabilities (PWDs) benefited from the training.
“The training messages were centered on the mandate of NCCE in advancing civic education, awareness and citizen engagement in community development initiatives, understanding Local Government Act and decentralize policy, importance of inclusive community participation in decision making and local governance and grassroots development, civic rights and duties of a citizen as per 1997 Constitution and patriotic and responsible citizenship,” he explained.
Cessay noted that this training could not have come at a better time, considering the polarization in the country mainly due to misinformation and hostile political climate amidst post presidential and parliamentary elections.
“This makes it even more crucial to continue to have continuous civic education to increase civic awareness and involvement of citizens in decision making and governance, especially at the grassroots regardless of their political orientation and affiliation.”
He also highlighted that despite continued efforts to increase inclusion and participation through policy and legal frameworks, there are still gaps in active involvement of citizens in decision making, especially at the grassroots. Hence this intervention by NCCE and partners such as UNICEF and the PBF to increase civic education especially among the decentralized structures at the grassroots for their increased participation in decision making, peace building and development in general.
He said without extensively and actively consulting and listening to each other especially women, youth and people with disabilities on their views and needs, policy-making and development processes will not be holistic and hence will fail to serve the common good.
“Reacting to NCCE’s interventions, participants in almost all the training venues expressed their appreciation to the NCCE for the timely engagements and provision of the much-needed information that are very useful in raising their civic consciousness and more importantly ensuring inclusive participation and sustainable grassroots development,” he said.
The sessions were also marked by fantastic conversations and sharing of best practices with decentralized structures such as traditional leaders, Village Development Committees, Ward Development Committees, MDFTs, Mother’s Club and Persons with Disabilities.
The trainings were organized by NCCE and funded by UNICEF under the UN Peace Building Fund.