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Senator Esther Okenyuri sponsors civic education bill

Politics
 Senator Esther Okenyuri on March 31, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Nominated Senator Esther Okenyuri has sponsored a bill that will require county governments to allocate resources from their annual budget towards funding civic education activities.

The County Civic Education Bill, 2024 seeks to establish a legal framework for the promotion of civic education in Kenya as an essential tool for building responsible citizenship, civic engagement, and democratic values among the citizens.

Okenyuri proposes that every county government shall establish county civic education programmes and the county executive committee members shall establish online and other innovative platforms setting out information on existing civic education programmes.

“Should the bill be enacted, it will enable citizens to understand their rights and responsibilities, participate actively in the governance of their country and contribute to the development of their communities, this bill proposes that public officials at national and county levels shall undergo mandatory civic education and training on their roles, responsibilities, and obligations as public servants,” said Okenyuri.

The bill proposes that the National Government may issue conditional grants to county governments to build the capacity of county government entities and fund civic education activities in counties with the county executive committee member designated a unit to be known as the county civic education unit.

Okenyuri proposes that the functions of the unit shall be to develop a comprehensive civic education plan for the county, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders and to oversee the implementation of civic education programmes and initiatives within the county.

The bill proposes that the unit will also coordinate with public and private institutions the execution of county civic education programmes, engage in resource mobilization efforts to secure funding, partnerships and other resources to support the implementation of civic education programmes in the county.

“The unit will monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of civic education programmes in the county with the unit responsible for the provision of regular reports to the county executive committee member and the county assembly with the function of the unit being to collaborate with relevant county government departments, agencies,” said Okenyuri.

Should the bill be enacted, there shall be a unit responsible for the registration of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other non-state actors providing civic education in the county as civic education providers under this Act and engaging other stakeholders in civic education activities to ensure a coherent and integrated approach to civic education in the county.

The bill proposes the establishment of an entity that is eligible for registration as a civic education provider to submit an application for registration in the prescribed form and may pay the prescribed fees with the unit requiring the applicant to submit such further particulars as the unit may from time to time determine.

The unit proposes that the unit shall within 60 days upon receipt of an application shall consider the application together with the required documents, conduct due diligence on the applicant and if necessary, call for such further information or carry out such inspections as the unit may consider necessary for the determination of the application.

“However, the unit may reject an application for the admission of an entity where the entity has submitted false or misleading information in its application or the application does not comply with the provisions of the act,” said Okenyuri.

The Nominated Senator proposes that the unit shall de-register a civic education programme whose parent entity has ceased operations, shall, before de-registering a civic education programme, issue to the entity a compliance notice in the prescribed form.

Okenyuri in her bill argues that civic education plays a critical role in shaping the attitudes, behaviours and values of individuals towards their community, country and the world at large and that despite the importance of civic education, Kenya currently lacks a comprehensive legal framework that provides for its promotion and regulation.

The enactment of the Bill into law will contribute significantly to the promotion of responsible citizenship, civic engagement, and democratic values among the citizens of Kenya, which are critical for building a prosperous, peaceful, and democratic nation.

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