South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The News on Sep. 16:

Pakistan is experiencing youth bulge that needs a compulsory vaccine of civic education to understanding the constitutional framework, fundamental human rights and institutional design of Pakistani democracy, says Executive Director Centre for Civic Education Pakistan (CCEP) Zafarullah Khan.

Centre for Civic Education Pakistan (CCEP) has launched a nationwide advocacy campaign for inclusion of democratic civic education in textbooks taught in nations’ classrooms, public service media messages and training of political party workers.

The campaign launched on the occasion of International Day of Democracy-2014 on the theme of ‘Engaging Young People on Democracy’ will liase with federal and provincial policy makers, leaders of mainstream political parties, textbook boards, relevant institutions and public and private media outlets to seek pledges, policy and earn space for well-thought out civic education. “Owing to low civic literacy, our vibrant political culture has not been able to graduate in to a delivering democratic culture,” says Zafarullah Khan.

The campaign intends to emphasise that historically fascism gained grounds through mere reliance on electoral rituals. Therefore, it will be prudent for the country’s democratic future that every institution practically supports civic education.

The campaign urges the Parliament to establish National Commission on Democracy to fulfil the promise made in Charter of Democracy besides creating ‘civic education units’ at the National Assembly and the Senate. The Law and Justice Commission of Supreme Court along with the network of bar associations shall contribute to expand literacy about the constitution and realization of fundamental rights. The campaign recommends that political parties shall start study circles through their think-tanks or training bodies to deepen understanding of their members and workers about democracy and its institutions. Textbooks must include core concepts like the framework value of the Constitution, citizens’ rights, due process, playing by rules and other imperatives of democratic citizenship. Public Service Broadcast and vibrant private print and electronic media must devote reasonable time for civic education related issues. The role of campus radios is equally important.

The campaign also demands that the federal and provincial governments must provide resources to administer this democratic vaccine with proven efficacy in emerging and mature democracies. The Centre will also publish findings of its experiences about the effectiveness of civic education along with arranging series of public events to solicit support for civic education.