By Chalo Mvula
The Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity has finally delivered the National Civic Education Policy through a launch that took place at BICC in Lilongwe on Monday. Hon Timothy Mtambo oversaw the launch. The National Civic Education Policy was among the earmarked targets that the ministry set to be delivered by this year during its “100 days report”.
In his speech , Hon Mtambo expressed how happy he was at this launch recalling that this is the first civic education policy ever in the history of Malawi and that after five years of a slow and tedious development process policy , a series of consultative interface across the country, a milestone has been recorded through the finalization and successful launch of the Policy.
The coming in of the policy has been described as timely as it will build coordination and collective action as government fight the current challenges society is facing such as gender based violence, Rape and Defilement cases, child marriages, Corruption and Climate change. In addition, the policy will promote civic engagement by creating platforms on which government and citizens will be able to progressively interface on issues of national importance
The formulation process of the Policy began way back in 2007. Government had engaged the Institute of Policy, Research and Social Empowerment (IPRSE) as the consultant which worked hand in hand with Government’s planning committee which constituted the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) and the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) among others.
However, it’s completion and launch suffered unavailable political will along the journey, an impediment that has been righted by the new administration as led by His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera.
“When I was appointed Minister responsible for civic education, I discovered that since its establishment in 2007, the Department of Civic Education had only six positions on its establishment. This means that the department had only six officers to carry out the functions of civic educating the citizens of Malawi. Over the years, nothing was done to expand the department for it to fully and effectively Carry out its functions, yet the nation had a lot of expectations from this important department. This means that the importance of civic education was either not appreciated or was deliberately downplayed to keep the citizens passive and ignorant of what to demand from their government. The Tonse administration wants to change that perception” said Mtambo.
This Policy responds to a myriad of challenges that have impacted the state of civic education in the country. Among others, such challenges include lack of proper coordination among civic education stakeholders, limited capacity and qualification of some implementing private stakeholders, duplication of efforts in delivery of civic education services, and selective delivery of civic education content among others.
The minister also announced that his Ministry is also working towards the reintroduction of Civics in schools as the long-term and sustainable strategy of civically empowering citizens. working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, NICE and Domasi college, the process is at an advanced stage.
One of the broad policy directions provided in this Policy is creativity and innovation. An innovative engagement platform called Pabwalo has been designed to facilitate a two-way process in which the Government and the citizenry interchangeably provide input and feedback.
The Ministry, in the matrix of this Policy, is a policy holder and there are designated stakeholders that are duty-bound to implement it. Among others, the implementation stakeholders include MDAs, CSOs, development partners and the academia. As a policy holder, the Ministry is charged with duty to monitor, coordinate and regulate the implementation by these various stakeholders.
The Minister also took time to thank stakeholders that have been instrumental in the formulation of this National policy “allow me, to thank, on behalf of the Malawi Government, the European Union(EU) for the huge and valuable financial support it renders to the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust. all development partners who have rendered their support to Malawi Government in general and civic education in particular and all stakeholders in the civic education sector who participated in the development process of this policy”
Mtambo called on all stakeholders to make sure the policy is put into action and implemented.