Civic education is also known as democracy education or citizen education and it broadly implies to the provision of learning experiences and knowledge to citizens in order to empower them to contribute effectively in the democratic mechanisms. The basic goal of this education is to support democratic as well as participatory governance. Civic education is manifested in many different forms including; classroom-based learning, experiential learning, informal learning & mass-media campaigns. It addresses a wide range of governance and political issues such as civic apathy/post-conflict reconciliation or corruption. In addition, it also takes social issues into account such as drug abuse, domestic violence etc. Overall, this field of study implies to civic knowledge, skills & disposition.
With specific reference to Election Day, the civic education in Pakistan has couple of major implications. First, it promotes participation of citizens in the electoral processes. It is observed generally that individuals who receive civic education, more actively participate in voting, legislation and policymaking, civil and political protests, problem solving initiatives for their community, election campaigns and accessing elected personnel. Second, students of civic education are considered to have sound knowledge about Pakistan and the basic features of its political system, structure & function of democratic bodies, civil/political rights and election timings. One of the most important aspects of civic education in Pakistan is voter education also referred to as electoral education. This type of education is imparted as a component of civic education and also in conjunction with electoral management bodies (EMB). This type of civic education is of immense importance in election context. It generally deals with the dissemination of materials, information, and programs designed to motivate and prepare individuals to participate fully in particular election process. It helps the individuals to understand more complex processes with reference to elections and highlighting significance & implications of voting, voting rights, human rights, roles, & responsibilities of voters, the conditions vital for democracy, and the relationship between democracy & elections. It also make them clear about the nature of electoral politics in Pakistan, eligibility criteria of electoral bodies, registration procedures, voting procedures or Election procedures in Pakistan.
Without civic and voter education, meaningful participation in an election process is not possible. If voters will be well aware of their rights & responsibilities, and legally valid procedures of casting ballots, the Election Day will become smooth and successful. Moreover, this education is crucial in regulating women participation in elections especially in under-developing & post-conflict countries where women do not use to play active role in elections. In this respect civic education can also play effective role by emphasizing equal rights of men and women. It can highlight the role women can play in national reconciliation and reconstruction if they possess knowledge and expertise and if they are given equal opportunities. The civic education must be equally accessible to both man & women. However, it should be ensured that during elections the government-sponsored Pakistan civic education or voter education must be accurate and neutral. It should not favor any particular party and should follow international best practices. The non-governmental bodies, media and local communities can make effective contributions in promoting civic education in election context while nourishing and strengthening all aspects of politics.
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