Civic Education was derived from citizenship education, which simply means an educational or learning activity, specifically meant to create awareness, teach right values, right attitudes and behaviours that are acceptable to the society where an individual lives. These acceptable norms and values in the society are what the members of the society cherish and nurture. They are passed from one generation to the other through tradition, religion and other ways of doing things that are found in their respective traditions and cultures.
Civic Education is therefore a type of educational and learning process that is meant to expose and create awareness in students at all levels of education (formal or informal), to the right values, attitudes and behaviour that are acceptable in the society where they live in. It is a kind of teaching and learning process that individuals and groups in the community must learn in order to relate well with other people. Civic education is also a learning process whereby individuals learn and accommodate the traditions of other people apart from their own ethnic group. For example, Nigeria being a multi-ethnic state has made effort by adopting civic education as a subject in the school curicullum and creating awareness through the media to encourage citizens to learn and accommodate one another irrespective of tribe, religion and ethnic diversity.
Citizenship or civic education is important for every student and the general public. This is because:
- It enhances people’s capacity to understand their rights, roles and duties as citizens and that they might respect that of others.
- It creates awareness among citizens on the duties of the government to them, as well as their obligations as citizens to the government.
- It brings out leadership qualities in students; a process of developing future leaders.
- Civic education also generates concern for the values by which a civilized society is identified in terms of equity, justice, democracy, tolerance, respect for constituted authority, respect for individual opinion, respect for the rule of law, fundamental human rights etc.
- It promotes unity by encouraging one to learn and have the knowledge of other tribes, particularly their tradition and culture.
- It brings about harmonious relationship and peaceful coexistence in the community.
- It enhances civic re-orientation and awakening to social responsibilities of the people to the government.
- It instills the spirit of nationalism and patriotism in the heart of the students, a prerequisite for sustaining national unity.
Scope of Civic Education
Civic Education has no limited scope. This is because it covers all aspect of human life and activities. It is expected that in a civilized society, citizens must be dedicated, disciplined, law abiding, have respect for constituted authority (students in secondary school must respect all the school teachers, their principal, seniors and even their classmates) patriotic, patient, self-reliant, have values, defend the nation (when necessary) etc. Hence, civic education has no boundary because it covers area like; right attitude, good behaviour, good character, good leadership, good followership, relationship, tolerance etc.
Civic Education, though a teaching and learning process, is practical in nature because it deals with the interaction among citizens; relationship between people and the government and how its agencies work. Civic Education observes the effect of right values, attitudes and the fundamental human rights and responsibilities of citizens in relationship to the government and society. Thus, the resulting effect and benefit of the practicality of Citizenship Education is felt by all. In turn, it encourages the citizenry to be true to their rights and duties as well as ensure that the government is true to theirs.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF CIVIC EDUCATION
The broad aim of Civic Education, either to the students at all levels of education or to the general public, is to create the necessary awareness that will make one function effectively well in the community where one lives and to contribute toward national and global development, devoid of conflict, disaffection, war, disaster, among others. The specific objectives of Civic Education include:
- Teaching right attitude: Students must understand what right attitudes and wrong attitudes are ., For instance, laziness, truancy, keeping bad company, drug abuse, bribery etc. should be discouraged, while hard work, truth, integrity, loyalty should be encouraged. Citizens should also do away with bad behaviours such as: indecent dressing, cheating in examination, stealing, bullying others etc.
- To encourage good citizenship: A good citizen is someone who contributes positively toward community growth, national growth and world development. Civic Education has the objective of exposing students and general public to various ways of achieving community and national development, such as right values, religious tolerance, right and duties of citizens among others. All these will enhance the capacity of an individual to contribute to community, national and global development.
- To teach good leadership and followership: Leaders should be role models for the society to follow. A good leader, therefore, should be someone who is truthful in discharging his/her duty, uphold the rule of law and one who works hard to solve followers’ problems. Good followers work hard and perform their expected duties and obligations to the state and community where they reside.
- To promote religious tolerance: Nigeria is a nation of multiethnic groups and cultural diversities. The constitution of Nigeria specifies the right to freedom of association and religion. Religious tolerance, therefore, simply means that no religion is superior to the other and no one may be persecuted for his/her of religion. Hence, the need to respect other people’s religion and that effort should be made by not using provocative language when preaching or during awareness creation by the adherents of any religion.
- To encourage spirit of friendship and cooperation: It is usually said, “united we stand divided we fall”. Civic Education promotes the spirit of friendship, cooperation, harmonious relationship, religious tolerance etc; among others are vital toward individual, community and national development.
Values and Importance of Civic Education
- Civic Education is necessary toward proper up-bringing of an individual. Just like the saying, “charity begins at home”, the adults at home, starting with the parents, have the duty of educating the child informally on how to behave well at home. In the school system, both teachers and community members must work hard enough to teach the acceptable rights and values.
- Civic Education is essential for self-reliant, focused and indigenous individual. Teaching Civic Education in schools will enhance the capacity of an individual and group on how to be an independent person. An independent person is one that can contribute to community and national development. He or she will develop to become an employer of labour and entrepreneur per excellence.
- It enhances individual growth, thereby encouraging national development and rapid progress. Civic education breeds individual growth through learning in awareness creation, self growth, self reliance and other ways of contributing to personal community, national and global development.
- It encourages peaceful co-existence among people of diverse ethnicity i.e. it exposes one to learn and have knowledge of other tribes particularly their tradition and culture.
- Civic Education creates avenue for people to live in peace, and harmony particularly in a country like Nigeria- it brings about harmonious relationship and peaceful co-existence in the community.
- Civic Education encourages good leadership and good followership. It enhances civic re-orientation and awakening to social responsibilities by the people to the government.
Agencies of Civic Education
All hands must be on deck in order to create the necessary awareness that would help the teaching and learning of right attitudes, right values, proper upbringing of the child and other attributes notable of any civilized community in the world. The agencies for civic education include:
- The Family: It is often said that “charity begins at home”. Family is the first agent of socialization and the first to educate the child on “dos and don’ts” in the society. The family is expected to teach the child right values, positive attitudes, hard work, sincerity, faithfulness, thankfulness among others. The family is expected to lay a good foundation for the child in terms of the best and acceptable ways of living in the society.
- The Community Members: The community consists of male and female members, ranging from young adults, adults and the elderly. They are in the best position to further direct the child toward right direction in the community. Doing so ensures a healthier society and prospect for stronger development of such community and the nation at large. A well disciplined and cultured individual is said to be the “child of the community”, whereas a failure, uncultured, and undisciplined individual belongs to his or her family. It is often said that “four eyes saw to the birth of a child; all eyes must see to the success of that child”. This saying emphasizes the rights and duties of the community members as agent of Civic Education.
- The Religious Bodies: The African Traditional religion, Islam and Christianity have a major role of training and teaching morals in the society. It is expected that the religion would make man a complete human being. It is a moral obligation of the religious organizations to initiate children and adults into a religious belief. Therefore, the balanced combination of good academic performance in school and sound morals with the fear of God would make a complete man because it is said that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”. Religious organizations as agent of Civic Education deal with our duties to God, to our fellow citizens and to our nation at large.
- The School: Schools at all levels are designed to teach, train, educate, socialize among others an individual to become a complete human being. Schools help to transfer acceptable societal values to the learners (both young and adults) through teaching and learning process. The school is an agent of socialization through which the child first acquires the organized learning experiences. The school provides a conducive environment in which the child can follow and adjust socio-economic conditions of his/her nation and the global world.
- The Mass Media: Both the prints and electronic media are agents of Civic Education because through various media channels a learner and citizens interacts with the happenings not only in their immediate environment but the global world. Infact the media has made the world to become a “global village.” For example on both radio and television stations, scheduled hours for awareness creation are on air. Eminent personalities and professionals are from time to time called upon to discuss issues relating to awareness creation. Other specialized agencies of Civic Education in Nigeria include:
- NOA– National Orientation Agency.
- ICPC – Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
- EFCC – Economic and Financial Crime Commission.
- INEC – Independent National Electoral Commission.
- Human Rights Organization such as; Civil Liberty Organization, Campaign for Democracy etc.
- Labour Union such as: Nigeria Union of Teachers, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Medical Association, Nigerian Bar Association etc.
- Code of conduct.