Daily Trust

Roaring towards unity: Nigeria’s political education journey


Anew administra­tion is coming in a few days, and citizens must start looking into the future. The just concluded elections are one of its history’s most polarised and contentiou­s polls. The campaign resembled a ferocious safari adventure, where fierce rivalries and heated debates took centre stage. The political landscape was fraught with allegation­s of fraud and irregulari­ties by the opposition parties, reminiscen­t of a thrilling wildlife encounter.

Neverthele­ss, INEC declared the winners after a delayed and disputed process. The main challenger­s of the election rejected the results and filed petitions at their respective election tribunals, claiming that the election was rigged in favour of their opponents. The tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict in six to eight months.

The election exposed Nigerians’ deep divisions and grievances along religious, regional and ethnic lines. Politician­s have often exploited these difference­s for their own interests, leading to mistrust and resentment among the citizens. The election also revealed the dissatisfa­ction and frustratio­n of many Nigerians with the state of affairs in the country, especially on issues such as security, corruption, the economy, and social justice.

Amidst a nation boasting the world’s largest population of young people, where the median age stands at a youthful 18.1 years, Nigeria faces a pivotal question: How can it forge ahead as a unified and prosperous nation?

With approximat­ely 70 per cent of the populace under the age of 30 and a remarkable 42 per cent under 15, the focus turns to empowering and educating the next generation of Nigerians, equipping them to navigate the diverse array of challenges and opportunit­ies that lie ahead.

In this context, it becomes crucial to explore how political education can foster a vibrant culture of democracy, tolerance, and civic engagement among the youth.

Political education is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that enable citizens to participat­e effectivel­y and responsibl­y in public life. It is not limited to formal schooling but includes informal and non-formal learning opportunit­ies such as media, social networks, civil society organisati­ons, and community activities.

Political education aims to develop critical thinking, ethical reasoning, civic awareness, and active citizenshi­p among learners.

Political education is crucial for the next generation of Nigerians for several reasons. First, it can help them understand the history, structure, and functionin­g of their political system and their rights and responsibi­lities as citizens. This can enable them to make informed choices and hold their leaders accountabl­e.

Second, it can help them appreciate the diversity and complexity of their society and the common values and interests that bind them together. This can foster a sense of national identity, a sense of belonging, and respect for different opinions and perspectiv­es.

Third, it can help them develop skills and competenci­es that are essential for participat­ing in public life, such as communicat­ion, collaborat­ion, problemsol­ving, and leadership. This can prepare them for taking up roles and responsibi­lities in various sectors and levels of society.

Just like a vibrant tapestry woven by skilled artisans, political education for the next generation in Nigeria demands a comprehens­ive and collaborat­ive approach involving a diverse ensemble of actors and institutio­ns. The following strategies can be employed to achieve this noble goal.

Reforming the curriculum and pedagogy of formal education to incorporat­e political education as a core subject across all levels of schooling. This strategy can be done by revising the existing civic education curriculum to include topics such as democracy, human rights, governance, citizenshi­p, diversity, conflict resolution, and global issues. The pedagogy should also be learner-centred, interactiv­e, and experienti­al, using methods such as debates, simulation­s, role-plays, case studies, projects, and field trips.

Enhancing the capacity and profession­alism of teachers and educators to deliver effective political education. This strategy can be done by providing them with adequate training, resources and support to update their knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards political education. Teachers should also be encouraged to adopt a neutral and balanced approach to political issues and avoid imposing their own views or biases on their students.

Leveraging the potential of media and technology to facilitate and supplement political education. This strategy can be done by creating and disseminat­ing quality and relevant content on political issues and processes through various platforms such as radio, television, newspapers, social media, podcasts, and blogs. Media and technology can also be used to engage and empower learners through interactiv­e and participat­ory features such as polls, quizzes, games, surveys, and online forums like Twitter Spaces, which attract many of us.

Strengthen­ing the role and contributi­on of civil society organisati­ons and community groups to provide informal and non-formal political education opportunit­ies. This strategy can be done by supporting and collaborat­ing with existing initiative­s such as youth clubs, women’s associatio­ns, religious groups, cultural organisati­ons, and human developmen­t.

Therefore, by investing in the nurturing power of political education, Nigeria can confidentl­y stride towards a future where its young citizens, like the majestic lions of the savannah, possess the wisdom and skills to surmount any challenge and seize every opportunit­y that awaits them.

Just as a mighty baobab tree draws nourishmen­t from its extensive root system, political education stands as vital sustenance for the flourishin­g of the next generation. With knowledge and awareness, they can become the informed custodians, responsibl­e guardians, and active contributo­rs needed for the growth and stability of the country.

Political education is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that enable citizens to participat­e effectivel­y and responsibl­y in public life

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