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IEC and Dept. of Education Partner To Raise Democracy Awareness In Schools

Apr 25, 2022

Voter Apathy At All Time High - Follow My Vote

 

By: Zahid Jadwat

 

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in conjunction with the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) has initiated an awareness project to tackle voter apathy amongst young South Africans.

 

The 2022 School Democracy Programme was launched in Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, where learners were taught about the importance of active citizenship. The initiative comes in response to declining participation amongst youth in the electoral system.

 

Speaking in an interview on Radio Islam, IEC General Manager Moagisi Sibanda explained the aim of the initiative: “With any kind of culture that you want to begin, you really have to start young – and that is the aim of the School Democracy Programme”.

 

“We, the Electoral Commission in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, saw it as very important to go and inculcate a culture of participation in democracy at schools,” she said.

 

Under the programme, Sibanda explained, the IEC developed learning materials for learners and teachers to ensure “that we make young people aware of what democracy is, what it means to be an active citizen, what voting is all about [and] what is the importance of voting”.

 

Voter apathy and the low level of youth participation in the 2021 municipal elections have raised concerns about youth involvement in South Africa’s electoral system.

 

While she agreed that the observation is backed by research, Sibanda said that participation will ensure that the voices of youth are heard.

 

“Going out and voting is what can reverse the trend. Going out and choosing something that will fulfil your desires as a citizen… that will fulfil the needs of your community. That’s what we go out and try to do”, she said.

 

As part of the programme, the Department of Home Affairs will assist in registering learners over the age of 16 to encourage youth to participate in the next election.

 

“We will also bring on board the Department of Home Affairs to come and register those who are eligible. Our research has shown that once young people register, they’re very likely to actually turn up and vote,” Sibanda said.

 

Listen to the full interview here:

 

 

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