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Teach civic education in schools, colleges

city kemp CMCA

city kemp CMCAEducators call for major policy reforms in the way civic education is taught in schools and colleges

Civic Education supporters speaking at “Dialogues” an initiative towards “Transforming Citizenship education in India” made a passionate plea for reforms in education for democratic citizenship in India.
“We as a society are solely focused on educating our youth for employability but have completely neglected education that moulds children and youth into humane, responsible and active citizens. Formal education in schools and colleges plays a crucial role in nurturance of democratic citizenship and revitalizing Civics and our education spaces are a means to achieve it. As the Government of India gears up in formulating the National Policy on Education, it is an opportune time to make recommendations for the same.” said Dr. Manjunath Sadashiva, Director CMCA.
“Dialogues: Transforming Citizenship Education” is a sequel to Yuva Nagarik Meter, a CMCA study on democratic citizenship among youth in urban India. Mr. Dilip Thakore, Editor in-Chief, Education World, said, “The Yuva Nagarik Meter has generated ample empirical evidence to suggest that the current civic education practices and experience of ‘democracy’ by youth in campuses in India severely fall short in equipping our young to grow up as democratic citizens.”
Excerpts from the Yuva Nagarik Meter: The study shows alarmingly negative attitudes towards democracy, and attributes of democratic citizenship in 15 – 19 year old youth in urban India. 39% of girls and 43% of boys agreed that women have no choice but to accept a certain degree of violence, 53 % of college students agreed that military should rule India for some years, 43 % agreed that it is alright to violate rules as they can get away by paying bribes,65% believe that girls and boys of different communities must not be allowed to mix in public places, 50% express intolerance regarding migrant workers from other states.
The distinguished participants (educators, academia, government agencies and civil society groups) proposed recommendations for reforms such as: the need for simplifying the civics curriculum, making it experiential, activity based and focussed on comprehension, attitudes and values, rather than mere theoretical knowledge with an exam orientation. Ms. Tara Rao, Director, HRE Program Amnesty International – India said, “There is a critical need for academic institutions themselves to nurture democratic practices in their relationships with students, staff and parents.”
Another path breaking facet of the event was the introduction of the “Campus Democracy Charter”, a charter for schools and higher education institutions to foster adherence to a set of democratic principles in their processes and operations. Mr. Ajay Seth, Principal Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education Department, Government of Karnataka, who chaired the plenary as a guest of honour, in his address conveyed his appreciation to the organizers and congratulated all the partners of Dialogues for bringing together the charter .He further added that the government of Karnataka is ready to partner with them to democratise educational spaces and assured that the proposed recommendations for civic education reforms would be considered in earnest.
The National Workshop was organized by Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) in collaboration with Centre for Corporate Governance & Citizenship of Indian Institute of management, Bangalore, Amnesty International-India, and Education World. The organisations are committed to continuing their advocacy for reforms in the months and years to come.

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