School Clubs an Effective Way To Reach Young Voters

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is holding a Review Workshop from the 27th to 28th February, 2018 to evaluate the performance of Voter Education School Clubs (VESCs) that have been set up in all provinces of the country in order to disseminate voter education information and to encourage voting among young people.

The Commission provides voter education and information to members of the public and the electorate to promote effective and greater citizens’ participation.

Forty Patrons from the School Clubs and ten Social Sciences Education Standards Officers (SESOs) are participating in the workshop to appraise the performance of the School Clubs that were established by the Commission in 2013 to enhance voter education efforts and strengthen the role of the Commission.

The initiative to establish VESCs commenced with the establishment of one (1) School Club in each provincial centre. The number of clubs has since increased to four clubs in each province bringing the total number of clubs country wide to forty.

The Voter Education School Club initiative is aimed at instilling a culture of integrity, patriotism and civic participation among Zambian learners. This is done through disseminating voter education messages in schools and involving learners in the fight against electoral malpractice, encouraging eligible learners to participate in the electoral process and creating a pool of volunteer Voter Educators among young people.

The workshop was opened today by Commissioner Emily Joy Sikazwe who urged participants to use the platform to improve the Voter Education School Clubs and also consider increasing the number of clubs because they were an important avenue of engaging young people and reaching out to the wider communities in sharing information about the electoral processes.

“I wish to encourage you to participate fully in this process, as it is cardinal in delivering credible elections and expanding the voter base and turn out in Zambia,” she said.

She explained that through the establishment of Voter Education School Clubs, teachers and pupils have access to electoral information which enables them to understand the electoral process and participate in elections in a meaningful way.

And speaking on behalf of the Ministry of General Education, Director Open and Distance Education, Mrs Beatrice Moya, called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia and other stakeholders to explore areas of collaboration with her ministry so that information and efforts around voter and civic participation were enhanced and not duplicated.

She added that concerted efforts to develop more impactful and innovative programmes were required.

“The School Club is a great initiative and certainly there is room for improvement and this workshop I believe is the platform that will take it to even greater heights,” said Mrs Moya.

Apart from the National and District Voter Education Committees, the Commission employs various platforms and mechanisms to effectively reach out to the diverse Zambian population.