NICE Project holds consultations with community leaders on civic education

02 Jun 2008

(Suva, Fiji) - Consultations are underway with community leaders in Fiji, in an effort to share information and raise awareness on civic education as well as discuss the best suited methods of reaching the diverse communities of Fiji.

During these meetings the Fiji National Initiative on Civic Education (NICE) aims to raise awareness of community leaders on the objectives, structure, content and the benefits of the NICE project initiative to the general public; familiarise them with the concepts of Democratic Governance and the role of citizens in consolidating democracy; and to facilitate the sharing and exchange of views with regards to how community leaders can effectively contribute in facilitating Civic Education activities in their communities.

The NICE Project concluded its round of consultations in the Northern and Western divisions and in Suva. These consultations will continue in Nausori and Levuka in the coming weeks.

Through these meetings, the NICE Project has been able to reach about 200 leaders in the North, 220 in the West, as well as over a hundred in Suva. Municipal Councillors, Provincial Council members, District Advisory Council members, Traditional leaders, Faith Based Organizations (FBO) leaders, youth and women leaders, CSO leaders and representatives from the Private sector were targeted.

The Project has been encouraged by the positive reception in all these localities. The consultations created an opportunity to confirm the realities on the information gap on democracy. Many of the community leaders, including traditional leaders, called for immediate implementation of project activities.

Mark Borg, the NICE Project Manager said "It is encouraging that community leaders have all appreciated the need for civic education and are showing such great support for the initiative. After these consultations we will engage with partner civil society organisations so that together we will prepare the material for the civic education activities so we can start community based civic education without delay. In so doing we will take account of the comments and recommendations received in the consultative meetings we are having with community leaders.”

Some of the key issues raised so far include the fact that a project on civic education is greatly needed and would contribute to consolidation of democracy in Fiji. It was also felt that there is a need for information in the vernacular on democracy, civil rights and how people can exercise those rights.

Background
The Fiji National Initiative on Civic Education (NICE) - a UNDP project directly executed on behalf of the Government of Fiji with support from the Government of New Zealand and the European Union.

The NICE project works with the widest possible cross section of the community to create a sound knowledge of democracy and better understanding of people’s civil rights and national democratic values. It is designed to facilitate civil rights awareness, information on democratic governance and help build civic responsibility and offer support for the foundations of a democratic society. 

Awareness in civil and political rights helps promote people’s involvement in national governance not only through their increased participation in national and municipal elections but also through the better use of democratic institutions.