Devolution and public participation are perhaps two of the most exemplary innovations of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. In Article 174(c), the Constitution states that one of the ‘objects of devolution are: “to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them.”
Devolution gives powers of self-governance to the people and enhances their participation in decisions that affect them.
Thus, devolution promotes community participation and accountability, it enhances technical efficiency and equity in the management of public resources. This participation is only possible when the public is educated on issues affecting their lives and how to influence the relevant decision-makers of such issues. Civic education informs community members of government development plans and their contribution to ensure the implementation of the plan is successful. Citizens can better contribute to the development of their country when they know how their government works and how important issues are to them.
Over the years, Haki Yetu Organisation has been conducting sustained civic education in Kilifi County. In the last three years, 968 registered groups in 15 wards have been targeted for civic education. A total number of 15,984 (2,473 Male & 6,951 Female >35 years; 1,985 Male & 4073 Female < 35 years; and 251 Male & 251 female PWDs), Kilifi citizenry have been reached so far. Showcasing the numerous involvement of women and PWDs actively engaged in civic education. A majority of the issues raised by the groups are on good health and wellbeing (SDG 3), quality education (SDG 4) and reduced inequalities (SDG10).
In March 2023, the Mdzongoloni Primary School Board of Management (BOM) in Tezo Location, Kibarani Ward was engaged in sustained civic education. After being taken through the three modules (The Constitution, Devolution & Public Participation) of sustained civic education, the group raised concerns over dilapidated classrooms and the pit latrines at the school that exposed children to health risks. International and Kenyan laws require the state to take steps to ensure realisation of the right to education. It is expected that education will be realised in a safe environment, free from health hazards.
Following the sustained civic education, the BOM wrote to the County Public Health Officer, to register their concerns about the safety of the children at the school. The school administration further engaged the office of the Sub County Director of Education through a letter requesting for immediate action to be taken on the recommendations provided by the Public Health Officer. Fast forward to September 2023, through the NG-CDF, the classrooms have been renovated, and a pit latrine constructed. It is often said that education is the fastest route up the social ladder and an equaliser, access to basic education should be seen as the primary driver of transformation, especially for the vulnerable groups, who particularly need, and deserve, constitutional protection. The new classrooms and toilets will ensure the children have access to quality basic education and proper sanitation;
A clear indication that an informed citizenry actively participating in governance affairs of the society on the basis of enhanced knowledge, understanding and ownership of the Constitution aligns to purpose-driven civic education.