IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

As the countdown to next year’s General Election starts in earnest, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as a matter of concern should review voter education curriculum with emphasis put on political rights, political parties and, more crucially, leadership and good governance.

If Kenyans are to avoid past mistakes, and this time round elect visionary, responsible and conscientious leaders, the electoral body has to critically review the curriculum as potential voters, especially in rural areas, urban slums, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL), still depict the image of ignorance on issues of political rights, visionary leadership and good governance.

To strengthen and enhance the country’s political system, and rightly empower the voters ahead of the elections, the voters should fully understand the meaning of political rights; be able to identify political rights and the responsibilities of citizens; barriers to citizen’s realisation of political rights, and more so the role of citizens in the enforcement of political rights.

In this day and age, it is disgusting to hear that a majority of the citizenry are not well-versed with the meaning of a political party, the role of parties in the electoral process, requirements for becoming a member of a party, and crucially, the importance of participation of women, youth, elderly, marginalised and persons with disabilities in the activities of political parties.

More importantly, for the voter education curriculum to be reviewed in earnest and equally facilitate the citizenry to make informed and rewarding choices, IEBC should emphasise in the curriculum responsibilities of the president, senator, MP, woman representative, governor and MCA. By extension, the curriculum should detail the guiding principles of leadership, qualities of a good leader, the role of citizens in electing good leaders, responsibilities and conduct of State officers, and more so, values and principles of the Public Service.

This is part of strengthening democracy, and it is through respect for the rights of voters regardless of their social status, academic background, religion, race or tribe. Space for critical dissent and commitment to the rule of law is paramount – failure to observe these tenets will destabilise the democratic order of the country.

Investing in voter education curriculum will ensure strengthening public support for democratic principles. Once the curriculum is revised to the satisfaction of Kenyans, and fully implemented, the locals, unlike in the past, will be able to choose the right and honest leaders to form and run the next government without hitches. Kenyans will actively participate in the governance of their country and decision-making processes.

Kenyans are tired of elections that bring the economy to a standstill. They would like more stable and predictable politics that is democratic and produces good governance at the national and county levels, that is inclusive of all ethnic groups, religions and regional diversity. However, this will be achieved through an enlightened citizenry that will make informed choices in the General Election.

By Standard

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