The citizens’ understanding of how the government should function as well as their engagement and commitment towards democracy is crucial to the progress of that society.
As such, every citizen of a country should be aware of their rights and obligations as citizens as well as the political, social, and economic conditions in society.
Participation in the affairs of the country is the duty of every citizen, but this is only possible if there is adequate provision made to sensitize, inspire, and motivate people to participate in governance.
This article explores what civic education is, its components as well as its benefits to citizens and society at large. Kindly read along.
What Does Civic Education Mean?
Civic education, also known as citizenship education, is the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the functioning of government in society.
It is the deliberate effort and process of educating citizens about their constitutional rights, responsibilities, and obligations so that they can enjoy the full range of privileges that every citizen of a country should enjoy.
The citizens of a country are persons who have full rights to be members of a society, nation, or state, whether by birth, descent, or grant.
Additionally, civic education may be informal and formal. The formal teaching of civic education is acquired in a school setting. It involves creating a curriculum for it and teaching it as a school subject or topic from pre-primary to college level.
Informal teaching of civic education on the other hand comes from family members, newspapers, radio, the internet, and any such programs organized to educate citizens.
Concisely, the key difference between the two forms is that schools are the medium through which people obtain civic education in the formal settings whereas the type of civic education obtained in informal settings are different.
It equally teaches self-governance, which means that people participate in their own governance. It teaches people to have a say in the affairs of the country.
Hence, for civic education to be effective, it must be realistic and address realities and truths about the nature of being a participatory citizen.
The beauty of civic education is that it can be taught and acquired at different levels. There is no age limit for gaining knowledge and information about what is happening in your country and beyond.
Components Of Civic Education
For civic education to be effective, it must contain three basic components, which are:
1. Civic Knowledge
Civic knowledge focuses on what citizens should know. The curriculum content of civic education should explain what the government is, civic life, the basis of a country’s political system, and the goal of a country’s forerunners to establish a country.
In addition, it should establish the principles, purposes, and values of the government, the relationship of a particular country to the rest of the world, the role of citizens in a democracy, etc.
These contents mainly cover the theoretical aspects of civic education. Civic knowledge, as an important part of civic education, aims to make citizens aware of important aspects of nation-building.
2. Civic Skills
For citizens to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations as members of an autonomous community, they need to acquire not only the body of knowledge embodied in civic knowledge but also intellectual and participatory skills.
The intellectual skills include thinking critically about solutions to social problems, identifying and describing trends such as legislative checks and balances, judicial review, immigration, and the employment situation in the country.
Conversely, participatory skills include interaction, supervision, and influence. Moreso, social skills are required to communicate and collaborate with others. Citizens equally need surveillance skills to keep track of political issues that concern the government. Lastly, influence skills are important to influence political and governance processes.
All of these are important components of good citizenship education, as they will produce effective citizens in society.
3. Civic Orientation
Civic disposition or orientation refers to private and public character traits that are essential to improving and maintaining constitutional democracy.
The civic orientation develops slowly over time due to what people learn and experience in their families, schools, communities, and civil society organizations. These experiences should make it clear that a country needs the responsible self-governance of everyone.
Moral responsibility, self-discipline, mutual respect, human dignity, civility, respect for the rule of law, willingness to listen, negotiate and compromise, are qualities that every private and public individual should possess in order to improve and uphold the country’s democracy.
The Benefits Of Civic Education
Civic education plays an important role in society. It is essential to sustaining the constitutional democracy of a state and this makes it a prime concern. In particular, receiving civic education from an early age is very helpful as it encourages citizens not to be dormant.
There are many benefits of civic education, some of which are;
1. It helps to build participatory citizens
Through civic education, there is an interest in what is going on in the country. As a result, individuals are influenced to participate more actively in the political and economic affairs of society.
Furthermore, it enlightens individuals about the realities that politics is easy to navigate and challenges the myth hovering around politics as a dirty game. Through this, the indifference of people to participate in the affairs of the state can be minimized.
Also, starting in elementary school, students learn about the country’s history as part of the civics education curriculum. This will further influence each student’s perception of society.
2. Citizens become well-informed
One of the core values of civic education is to develop citizens so that they can fully understand what is happening in their country and even globally.
Through different agents, information spreads across to citizens and mitigates ignorance. Additionally, it aims to develop a habit of acquiring information about different matters affecting society and the relationship of the country to the rest of the world in citizens.
It equally informs citizens about a country’s world ranking in terms of economic growth, security and stability, political participation, and social values.
Finally, citizens learn about their rights and obligations as citizens through civic education. This will allow everyone to know how to seek the right justice for the violations of their rights.
3. Civic education fosters citizens’ patriotism
Through civic education, individuals can see how heroes fought for their country, even at the cost of their lives. This will, in a way, motivate individuals to want to be better citizens of their country, lest they undo the efforts of heroes of the past.
Also, through the knowledge of the history of past leaders, individuals can learn not to repeat the same mistakes past leaders made. For instance, citizens can learn the cause of a war, thus, gaining knowledge on how to handle similar situations to avoid errors.
4. It promotes a united society
Civic education teaches citizens to live in peace with each other. Individuals are implored to tolerate each other’s differences, regardless of religion or race.
Furthermore, it teaches the citizens of a country that they are one and that they are indivisible. Moreso, it not only emphasizes that we are one but also teaches us how to live together peacefully and how to maintain that unity.
5. It helps to breed ethical citizens
Civic education is more than political and economic education, it also refines the moral values of citizens.
Through this society can reduce the incidence of crime and corruption in society.
Additionally, countries, where moral decadence is rampant, find it hard to develop. Civic education, therefore, initiates development in a country by encouraging citizens to do what is right rather than wrong.
Additionally, it teaches people to become accountable to each other and care about each other’s well-being.
6. It ensures the continuity and accountability of government
Civic education exposes people to what really makes up the institutions of government in the country. This includes the purpose and objectives of the government as well as what guides the functioning of the government.
Through civic education, people learn about the nation’s electoral process. They also gain knowledge of their eligibility to vote as well as the functioning of government within a state. This guides people not to make decisions that violate national standards.
7. Civic education helps to reduce conflict and war
All the above-mentioned benefits of civic education make the country a better place. It also encourages people to live in peace with each other.
Good moral values foster solidarity, and a responsible government ensures that the country’s economy is constantly growing. Thereby improving the standard of living of the people and promoting a united community of people.
What Are The Agents Of Civic Education?
Civic education can be obtained through different agencies. These agents all work together. Some of these proxies are:
- Social media
Why is civic education important?
It is important because it involves educating the citizens about their rights and duties in a state as well as the responsibilities of the government to the state. It also encourages citizens’ participation in governance.
What are civic skills?
Civic skills include intellectual skills such as critical thinking and participatory skills such as social skills, supervision skills, etc.
What are the civic duties of a citizen?
The civic responsibilities of citizens include maintaining law and order, staying abreast of social and political occurrences, supporting and protecting the constitution as well as respecting the rights of others.
What are the civic rights of a citizen?
The civic rights of citizens include the right to vote and be voted for, right to life, right to freedom of speech, right to religion, and so on.
What are the ways through which we learn civic education?
Some of the places through which we gain the knowledge of civic education include the school, family, mass media, political parties, among others.
To sum up, we can infer that civic education plays an important role in the development of any given country. The citizens of a country are an integral part of the country; hence, it is crucial that they are actively involved in governance to ensure the success of the state.
But to achieve this, they need proper education on social issues. Therefore, the government of a state should ensure that civic education is taught in schools across all levels, starting in elementary school, with a robust and well-detailed curriculum.
Lastly, you may also read the article on what multicultural education is to learn more about the benefits of multicultural tolerance.
Thanks for reading. I hope this article helps you to become a better citizen.