Stakeholders meet to chart way forward on civic education

22 Sep 2008

(Suva, Fiji) - The delivery of Civic Education to the communities of Fiji was given a major boost when stakeholders from Government, donors, civil society and non-government organizations met to agree on the way forward at the Raffles Tradewinds Convention Centre in Lami on Thursday 18 September, 2008.

The one-day meeting saw stakeholders discuss and endorse a Community Civic Education Framework, which covers areas such as democracy, human rights and governance and will form the backbone of a Civic Education Curriculum for Fiji, to be developed by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) and its Civil Society Organisation partners.

Stakeholders emphasized the need for Civic Education to be delivered in a way that is meaningful for the diverse communities of Fiji and takes into account their existing knowledge. To achieve this, stakeholders agreed to a plan for Civil Society Organisations to partner the NICE Project to deliver Civic Education activities across the country from early 2009.

The meeting was officially opened by Mr Richard Dictus, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, who noted that “civic education provides people with the knowledge, skills and disposition to participate meaningfully in civic life. This means much more than just making an informed choice on voting day - it means having confidence in and respect for democratic ways of working in families, communities, provinces and in the nation as a whole.”

Mr Dictus also acknowledged that the NICE project, which is being implemented by UNDP on behalf of the Government of Fiji, would not be possible without support from the Government of New Zealand and the European Union.

The stakeholders also heard the presentation of results and findings of a Perception Index Study commissioned by the NICE Project and conducted by University of the South Pacific academic, Dr Steven Ratuva. The study confirmed that the people of Fiji view civic education and information on democracy as important, and that the majority support democracy and its institutions and are willing to participate in elections. Stakeholder’s agreed that the findings of the study would be critical in shaping how Civic Education activities are developed and delivered.

The meeting also elected members who will form an Advisory Committee that will work closely with the NICE Project to provide advice on partner organizations, target groups and the implementation of Community Civic Education activities.

Background
NICE is a UNDP project directly executed on behalf of the Government of Fiji with support from the Government of New Zealand and the European Union. NICE was formed following a similar Stakeholders meeting held in May 2003 to discuss and propose strategies for developing and implementing a civic education programme in Fiji.

The NICE project was designed to work with the widest possible cross section of the community to create a sound knowledge of democracy and better understanding of peoples civil rights and national democratic values. It facilitates civil rights awareness, information on democratic governance, helps build civic responsibility and offer support for the foundations of a democratic society.