By Olimatou Coker
Yusupha Bojang, programme manager, National Council for Civic Education, has said the faint understanding of democracy has an injurious impact on the future of the country, as uninformed citizens with scant knowledge of how to exercise their democratic rights use derogatory remarks in political discuss, thus causing deep political polarization in the country.
“This tends to discourage free and fair participation in political processes and lead some citizens to entertain the notion that democracy is divisive and a threat to the peace. This trajectory makes civic education both more challenging and increasingly important: enlightening citizen to be informed, responsible citizens emerges as a vital long-term solution to political intolerance,” he said.
Mr Bojang made these remarks on Thursday during the opening of a week-long training of out-of-school youths on leadership, civic rights and duties to prepare them for transition into adulthood and citizenship, held at Mansakonko, LRR.
According to Mr Bojang, civic education prepares citizens to be conscious of their rights as well as their responsibilities, adding that it also cultivates a sense of belonging, virtues, knowledge and skills necessary for effective participation.
He stated that this training programme with the theme: “Catching Them Young: Cementing Patriotism and Responsible Citizenship among Young People” is designed to provide the participants with information on leadership, civic rights and duties as a means of enabling and enhancing young people’s participation in matters of governance and enhance a culture of constitutionalism where citizens uphold and defend the highest law of the land.
The training intends to promote patriotism, responsible citizenship and civic awareness as well as leadership skills among the young people who are the future of the country, in an effort to prepare them for their transition to adulthood and positively contribute to national development.
“For us as NCCE, we attach great significance to the participation of young people in our governance processes. We strongly believe that no meaningful development and sustainable peace and democratic maturity can be attained if young people are left behind. We will continue to sensitize and enlighten citizens to build and consolidate a mature political culture in which all citizens irrespective of gender and age are more aware of, and fully exercise their rights and responsibilities, as well as participate effectively in nurturing and broadening our nascent democracy,” he explained.
For his part, the Chairman of Mansakonko Area Council, Landing B Sanneh, said the topic under discussion is inclusive and timely. He added that “leadership is about taking the lead, making good decisions and taking responsibility”, while urging youths to transition into adulthood and take responsibilities.
Chairman Sanneh tasked the participants to transmit the lessons learnt to their peers in their respective communities while reminding them that The Gambia will always rely on youths for sustainable development. He concluded by calling for more civic education and encouraged the NCCE to broaden its interventions to include everyone in the communities, including elites.