Kathleen Addy — Chairperson of the NCCE
Kathleen Addy — Chairperson of the NCCE

NCCE undertakes education to address threats to democracy

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) is undertaking targeted civic education exercises aimed at addressing potential threats to the country’s democracy.

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The exercise is focused on conscientising citizens to guard against the increasing monetisation of politics in the country, spread of fake news during elections, infiltration of religious sentiments in the electoral process and use of violence for political power.

The Chairperson of the NCCE, Kathleen Addy, who made this known to the Daily Graphic in an interview, said the civic education exercise was particularly centered on the youth who formed a bulk of the country’s population and dominated the electoral roll.

“We are focused on young people because they are vulnerable. Their vulnerability is in their strength — because they are young, they are vibrant, passionate, strong and fearless and this makes them vulnerable for politics because those who seek power attempt to use that energy, strength and youthful exuberance to create problems,” he said.

She stressed that the NCCE’s target was to equip young people and new voters with knowledge and capacity to reject being influenced by money,  the politics of division and use of internet to bring chaos and destruction.

2024 elections

The NCCE chairperson said the crucial nature of this year’s elections required all stakeholders, particularly the youth, to be educated to know that the quality of the choices they would make had implications for the sustenance of the country’s democracy.

She said it was in that regard that the Commission was collaborating with other state and non-state actors to help prevent issues such as money in politics, using internet for fake news dissemination, creation of tension, division and inciting people on the basis of religious inclinations.

“Civic education will let us know that collecting money to vote for someone irrespective of their quality is counterproductive and cannot work. We want citizens to also know that people who highlight religious differences for votes are nation-wreckers,” she said.

No violence

Ms Addy also underscored the need for the electorate to stay away from political parties and candidates who want to get political power on the back of violence. She stressed that the idea that people must die or shed blood for the political parties they belonged to was alien to democratic arrangements.

“Political opponents are not enemies so citizens need to know that those who preach political opponents as enemies are the enemies of the country,” she added. Ms Addy observed that after enjoying a stable democracy in the Fourth Republic, spanning over 30 years, all Ghanaians needed to play their part in consolidating the gains by helping to do away with violence during electoral campaigns.

She also stressed the need for citizens to stop supporting politicians simply because of ethnicity, religious believes or common allegiance. “If you start urging people to vote for someone you have common faith with, you are creating fertile grounds for chaos,” she said.

Action

Touching further on what the NCCE was doing to ensure that citizens made informed decisions in this year’s election, she said the commission was strengthening its engagements with the interparty dialogue committee to address emerging challenges ahead of the elections.

Again, she said the commission had rolled out special civic education projects with political party youth activists to let them understand the need to be decent in their political activities.

She also said the NCCE was having special engagements on religious tolerance by bringing faith-based organisations together to work towards unity ahead of the elections. “We are also working with other organisations to counter the threats of fake news and misinformation. We are coming up with a mechanism to identify and discount fake news,” he added. 
 

Civic education crucial

Ms Addy said civic education was a crucial component for consolidating democratic governance because it put citizens in a better position to elect quality leaders to rule; enhanced rule of law; and helped people to understand their rights and responsibilities.

She added that civic education ensured the building of strong institutions, instilling of patriotism in citizens who would be commixed to defending the state and the Constitution. 

“Without civic education, all elements that come together to form a democracy will not work. Without civic education, our democracy is dead; and that is why we must ensure that the institution set up for civic education is resourced to do that to ensure the sustainability of our democracy,” she stressed.

Ms Addy also stressed that it was through civic education that people would get a change of mindset and imbibe values such as integrity, patriotism and participation in building a solid democracy.

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