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Global Knowledge Network On Voter Education - learning from each other

Investing in the Future of Democracy

Voter and Civic Education; Curricular and Extracurricular Models; Curriculum and Content Development for different levels
The Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) was established on 7th August 2008 as an independent and impartial institution to conduct and supervise all state election and public referendums as well as to monitor the regulatory framework partaining to the functioning of political parties. Under the Elections Commission Act (2008), 5 members are appointed by the President for a 5 year term with approval of People’s Majilis.

With regard to the Constitution and the Elections Commission Act include educating and creating awareness among the general public on the electoral process and its purpose. Voter and civic education is highly essential for inclusive, informed and ethical participation.
Civic education deals with and pays attention to educating the public about the various concepts underpinning a democratic society including types of government, political systems, citizen’s responsibilities, and the role of media and other special interests.
Voter education, on the other hand, deals with more complex types of information about the voting process including voter rights, human rights, roles and responsibilities of voters, the meaning of concepts such as secrecy of ballots, public accountability, as well as the relationship between democracy and free and fair elections.

Development of a Civic Education Program
In collaboration with UNDP, Elections Commission of Maldives started work on developing a curriculum for civic education in the year 2015. This project was successfully completed with the accomplishment of four different modules with their content. These modules were designed in such a way that the participants learn through the activities in which they actively participate in. UNDP carried out the teaching of trainers, who could deliver the four modules to the public.
Piloting and conducting the program
In order to test the newly shaped civic education program, it was organized in two islands in Raa Atoll called Raa Meedhoo and Raa Maduhvari. A total of 108 participants took part in this program. The participants for the piolet program were selected on the basis of a diversified criteria, including school students, parents, working citizens, NGO’s, and general public.
After the pilot round, which was held in Raa Atoll, the necessary amendments were made to the civic education program and a second test round was conducted in Gn. Fuvahmulah for a total of 66 participants.
Finally, with the final amendments the program was conducted in more than 24 Islands for a total of 1023 participants.

Future enhancements for the current civic education program
In the process of conducting the program involving a variety of participants, it was noticed that the content of the program needs to be also inclusive of the following components:
• Youth Participation which will affect the number of new voter turnout
• Women Empowerment, not only as voters but as candidates and as political appointees
• Disability mechanisms of delivering the messages to the disable people in the most efficient manner

Development of Voter Education Strategy
In collaboration with UNDP, Voter Education Strategy (VES) 2017 - 2019 was developed by a local consultant. To come up with efficient and effective strategy, there were discussions with stakeholders, employees of the Commission, Commissioners and also with related NGO’s (Non-Government Organizations).
In this voter education strategy, some of the key areas which were focused upon are:
• Development of a Mobile application with voter education and awareness content
• Carrying out social media campaigns in a wide range
• Provide a better platform for young people to express their concerns and come up with innovative solutions to address these issues
• Various forms of educational messages and methods must be employed to break gender stereotypes
• Disabled community members (including sign language interpreters) could be used in developing and delivering many of the related content
• Engaging constructively with the public on key issues of concern and developing consistent campaigns of education could potentially change the negative perceptions.

Implementation of Newly designed Voter Education Strategy
The newly designed voter and civic education strategy is ready for implementation and the first phase of it will function in the first quarter of 2017. In this phase a wide range of consultation meetings will be conducted for stakeholders. Wide array of modes will be discussed with the media to impart the information to the general public. Communicating of the Civic modules to emerging voters via school curriculum will be held at utmost importance in the first quarter of 2017.

In this module the participants learn
• The basic concept of democracy
• Important principles of democracy
• The pillars of democracy with the roles and responsbilities of each.
Learning outcomes of this module are:
• What accountability is
• Importance of making the elected parties / candidates accountable
• What are the areas where they need to be accountable
• As a citizen, what is the importance being accountable in choosing candidate/s.
This module directly focuses on the three main elections conducted in Maldives; Presidential Election, Parliamentry Election and Local Council Election. The processes, durations given for various activities, such as duration for registration, re-registration, campaign duration and observer durations are main highlights.
This module emphersises:
• The importance of each citizens participation in a democracy
• Who can be a citizen of Maldives
• Importance in participating in decision making process

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NewsLetterTOT completed trainers with UNDP and ECM Members

Elections Commission of Maldives