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The Alkalolu and the Act

Apr 1, 2015, 2:08 PM

(Issue, Monday 30 March 2015)

Thirty-two village heads in Kombo East district of the West Coast Region have just completed a two-day training session on the Local Government Act 2002 and citizenship as per the 1997 constitution of The Gambia.

This latest move was undertaken by the Kombo East Alkalolu Association through the office of the West Coast Region Governor, with facilitators from the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Kaira Nying Federation, a local partner with ChildFund.

This is considered a step in the right direction as it will give the alkalolu more insight into their civic rights and responsibilities.

Such training also helps them to effectively serve their people and raise the quality of the democratization process in this country.

Civic education is an important means for capacity development on the societal level by empowering people for effective civic engagement.

It is also an essential dimension in strengthening a society’s ability to manage its own affairs, as well as being complementary to capacity development on the individual and institutional levels, as rightly stated by organisers of the recently-concluded alkalolu training course on the local government Act.

In April 2002, the National Assembly passed the Local Government Act, 2002 to establish and regulate a decentralized local government system for The Gambia, as well as to make provision for the functions, powers and duties of local authorities.

Behind this alkalolu training initiative, the NCCE is very instrumental, as the Act places responsibility on the council for the sensitization, information and educating the citizenry, particularly at the grassroots, on their rights and responsibilities under the constitution.

The NCCE was created as an independent, non-partisan council under the constitution, to design and coordinate civic education programmes and to serve as the advisory component to the National Governance Programme. So its engaging in such an assignment is rightly within its element; hence a step in the right direction.

It is essential to note that the NCCE has been promoting the principles and ideals of democracy by embarking on a series of civic education programmes with voters, area councillors and National Assembly Members in the West Coast Region.

The council has been enlightening the people on governance, the duties of the citizen and legal rights and responsibility, the constitutional guarantee of basic freedoms, among others.

By executing its mandate, the council is providing the people with civic education - an education to equip citizens with knowledge about their rights and obligations - as they are part of the society and the global community.

We are of the conviction that through such education we can enhance and promote good governance in this country. 

Civic education can be used to address a wide variety of political and governance issues ranging from corruption to voter apathy, and so on.

“A constitutional democracy is in serious trouble if its citizenry does not have a certain degree of education and civic virtue.”

Phillip E. Johnson

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