The ultimate goal of Civic Education is to prepare generations for the essential principles and values of democracy embodied with a high sense of responsibility and active engagement in the issues related to the society, community, or state in their everyday life (Center for Civic Education, 2004:1). Civic education, whenever and however undertaken, prepares people of a country, especially the young, to carry out their roles as citizens. Civic education is, therefore, ―the cultivation of the virtues, knowledge, and skills necessary for political participation‖ (Gutmann, 2007:287 in Tigran & Marcie, 2008). Pupil service learning the participatory part of civic education, bridging classroom activities with the community. However, service learning is no replacement for civic education. Although commonly associated with schooling
civic education is not the exclusive domain of schools. Hence, both pupils and communities benefit from pupil involvement in community based learning activities. The most effective civic education design includes the direct teaching of the scholarly content knowledge and the balance of participatory skills with the modeling and teaching of civic values and dispositions.
Civic education (also known as citizenship education or democracy education) in democracy is education in self-government (Awoniyi & Francis, 2014). Democratic self-government means that citizens are actively involved in their governance. The ideals of democracy are most realised when every member of the political community shares in its citizen. Members of the political community are its governance. Membership implies participation but not participation for participation sake. Citizen‘s participation in a democratic society must be based on informed, critical reflection, and on the understanding and acceptance of the rights and responsibilities that go with that membership. According to Carpini and Keeter (2008), Civic Education is concerned with three (3) different elements:
- civic knowledge;
- civic skills; and
Civic knowledge refers to citizens understanding of the working of the political systems and of their own political civic rights and responsibilities (for instance, the right to freedom of expression and to vote and run for public office, and the responsibilities to respect the rule of law and the rights and interests of others). Civic skills refer to citizens‘ ability to analysis, evaluate, take and defend positions on public issues, and to use their knowledge to participate in civic and political processes (for example, to
monitor government performance, or mobilise other citizens around particular issues). Civic dispositions are defined as the citizen traits necessary for a democracy (for example, tolerance, public spiritedness, civility, critical mindedness and willingness to listen, negotiate and compromise).
The most wide spread application of civic education according to Branson and Quigley (2006) is in formal school education. It is being as part of the regular curriculum in primary schools and primary schools around the world, and there are extensive pedagogical resources available from the many civil society organisations involved in promoting this aspect of the approach. They further argued that civic education was an important component of education that cultivates citizens to participate in public life of a democracy, to use their rights and to discharge their responsibilities with the necessary knowledge and skills. Societies have long had an interest in the ways in which their young are prepared for citizenship and in how they learn to take part in civic life. Today that interest might better be described as a growing concern, particularly in democratic societies.
Civic education is essential to sustain constitutional democracy (Branson, 2004). The habits of the mind, as well as “habits of the heart,” the dispositions that inform the democratic ethos, are not inherited. As Alexis de Toqueville (2010), pointed out, each new generation was a new people that must acquire the knowledge, learn the skills, and develop the dispositions or traits of private and public character that undergird a constitutional democracy. Those dispositions must be fostered and nurtured by word and study and by the power of example. He further mentioned that Democracy was not a “machine that would have go itself,” but must be consciously reproduced, one generation after another. According to Galston (2006), civic education in a democratic
society most assuredly needed to be concerned with promoting understanding of the ideals of democracy and a reasoned commitment to the values and principles of democracy. That does not mean, however, that democracy should be presented as utopia. Democracy is not utopian, and citizens need to understand that lest they become cynical, apathetic, or simply withdraw from political life when their unrealistic expectations are not met.
To be effective, civic education must be realistic; it must address the central truths about political life. It is reasonably clear that good citizens are made, not born. The question is how, by whom, to what end? Galston (2006) stated that, civic education programs have the potential to convey political knowledge to pupils. However, the extent to which knowledge is gained through these programs depends upon pupils‘ civic learning experience. According to Komalasari (2009), civic competence referred to someone‘s wish to become an active member of a democracy and it was also known as social conscience. A person who possesses civic competence is involved in the community and has patriotic feelings about his country. It helps to become a better citizen and competent people are more likely responsible for their actions because they are aware of their rights and obligations. Civic competence could be described as a person‘s understanding and desire to be an active member of a democracy. Developing civic competence is developing a social conscience. This included becoming involved in the community, appreciating diversity and patriotism, ability to make informed decisions and an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
The historical background of the Civic Education Curriculum could be traced to the period after 1999 when the democratic system of governance was reintroduced in Nigeria (Simfukwe, 2010). The teaching and learning of Civic Education will help
pupils recognise the profound role that this subject plays in our constantly changing world. The Ministry of Education hope that through Civic Education learners will be equipped with knowledge, skills and values which will enable them to practice their civic rights and perform duties as responsible Nigerian citizens (Simfukwe, 2010).
Civic Education syllabus cover a cross section of political, economic, social and cultural issues that are key to Nigerian’s democratic system of governance. Some of the themes and topics covered in the civic education syllabus include: National ethics, discipline, rights, obligation, emerging issues in the society, government system, processes and global issues. It is taught in schools as a compulsory subject. The themes and topics covered in civic education curriculum are based on the set goals of the National Policy on Education (Educating our Future, 1996). Civic education will enable school leavers to gain the civic knowledge and acquire skills that will enable them understand and practice their civic values, rights and obligations as responsible Nigerian citizens (FRN, 2013). Civic education remains an important means of teaching the populace about individual rights and what duties and responsibilities the governed and leaders should do. The reintroduction of Civic Education as a subject to be taught in primary and primary schools in Nigeria is expected to further deepen democratic culture and encourage qualitative participation of the average Nigerian in the governance process.
Teachers are very crucial to the success of this bold initiative. Theirs is to inculcate the right kind of values through effective teaching of civic education. Teachers, irrespective of what subject they teach, are a great asset to any nation. By virtue of their profession and their selfless commitment and dedication to duty since the beginning of time, they belong to a special class and should therefore be acknowledged
and appreciated. According to Adenipekun (2010), the new Senior Primary school Education Curriculum (SSEC) that contains civic education and whose implementation is to commence from September 2011 has thrown up a big challenge to teacher educators in the nation‘s Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities as they have to review their teacher preparation programmes in the context of knowledge of subject matter, teaching skills and competencies. Since that is yet to be done, the responsibility of teaching the new civic curriculum may rest squarely on the Social Studies teachers. This paper therefore presents the rationale, curriculum contents of civic education and the challenges which the implementation of the new curriculum poses to the social studies teachers.
Nigerians also should realize that civic education is essential to sustain our constitutional democracy. The habits of the mind, as well as “habits of the heart,” the dispositions that inform the democratic ethos, are not inherited. As Alexis de Toqueville pointed out, each new generation is a new people that must acquire the knowledge, learn the skills, and develop the dispositions or traits of private and public character that undergird a constitutional democracy. Those dispositions must be fostered and nurtured by word and study and by the power of example. Democracy is not a “machine that would go of itself,” but must be consciously reproduced, one generation after another. Civic education, therefore, is-or should be a prime concern. There is no more important task than the development of an informed, effective, and responsible citizenry. Democracies are sustained by citizens who have the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Absent a reasoned commitment on the part of its citizens to the fundamental values and principles of democracy, a free and open society cannot succeed. It is imperative, therefore, that educators, policymakers, and members of civil
society make the case and ask for the support of civic education from all segments of society and from the widest range of institutions and governments (Branson, 2008).
It is relatively easy for a society to produce technically competent people. But the kind of society Nigerians want to live in and the kind of government they want to have requires effort and commitment on the part of its citizens. Nigerians want a society and a government in which human rights are respected; individual’s dignity and worth are acknowledged; the rule of law is observed; people willingly fulfill their responsibilities; and the common good is the concern of all. Making that kind of society and government a reality is the most important challenge Nigerians face and the most important work they could undertake. Civic Education is no longer an abstract or generic objective in the Nigerian National Curriculum, but an actual school subject accompanied with useful materials and training assistance. The materials give substance and durability to the course of civic education.
The humanities within the civic education have a role in supporting the intellectual and social development of pupils as thoughtful humans able to contribute to their civil society—through inquiry, analysis, critical understanding, and reflection. Moreover, the goal of civic education is to create young people who are capable of being informed, engaged, and participatory citizens of their communities, nation and the world (Taylor-Thoma, 2000 in Tigran & Marcie, 2008) Citizens in democracy are responsible for their education, they should be able to define their own goals and strive for those goals, evaluate their actions in the society and reflect on their behaviour. The civic education discipline is diagnosed as an educational sphere through which pupils develop citizenship characteristics including the above mentioned concepts , skills, and dispositions.Download Full Material-N4000