Gbarpolu County – Ahead of next year’s Special Senatorial elections, the coordinator of the Rural Human Rights Activist Program of Gbarpolu County, Alfred B. Scott has recommended the establishment of an autonomous body to be responsible for civic voter education in Liberia.
“So, if civic education is legally assigned to a state institution, that alone will make NEC to always be focused on educating people how to vote to avoid more invalid votes in future elections.” – Alfred B. Scott, Coordinator, Rural Human Rights Activist Program of Gbarpolu County.
Article 15 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia gives the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries, stating, “In pursuance of this right, there shall be no limitation on the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries.”
He said since the constitution is not clear on the civic education in the country, Liberians must use this time to pass a law establishing a National Civic Education Commission (NCEC) that will be responsible for continual civic education.
“If the people must be adequately informed on the works of the government, [this] is the time we take advantage of any electoral reforms to set up a unit that will educate us on government policies and programs in this country,” Scott said.
According to him, part of the mandates of the commission will be to design a holistic sustainable national civic education program.
He argued that the NEC does not have a constitutional mandate to deliver civic education program.
“So, if civic education is legally assigned to a state institution, that alone will make NEC to always be focused on educating people how to vote to avoid more invalid votes in future elections,” he said.
According to the Human Right Activist, the organic law of Liberia declared the dissemination of this Constitution throughout the Republic:
Article 10 says, “The Republic shall ensure the publication and dissemination of this Constitution throughout the republic and the teaching of its principles and provisions in all institutions of learning in Liberia.”
Nevertheless, this is not happening in our schools in the country, according to Alfred B. Scott.
“Therefore there is a need to alter or delete this article in our constitution and give all power to legislated state own commission to resume this function.”
He said if this is done, Liberians will always be informed on the government and its functionaries, noting that this will also include the rights of citizens to fully take part in future elections in the country.
Regarding Civic and Voter Education (CVE), the Technical Working Group (TWG) that developed the roadmap for electoral reform in Liberia did not support changes to the legislation.
They, however, recommended clarifying the scope of the NEC’s responsibilities for CVE by establishing a written policy and a feasible operational plan.
Report By: Henry Gboluma In Gbarpolu County