Civic Education and Voter Information modules. Bhutan, September 2011.

6 October 2011

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) together conducted two BRIDGE 5-day workshops from 19 to 23 and 26 to 30 Sep 2011 at Kichu Resort, Paro.  These two workshops form part of a program of BRIDGE to be conducted in Bhutan across 2011, 2012 and 2013. The long-term objective of the program is to strengthen the capacity of the ECB so it can continue to conduct credible and effective elections in a transparent, democratic governance environment.  Funding is provided by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

The Civic Education and Voter Information Modules of BRIDGE were chosen to suit the needs of Bhutan, the ECB and this particular group of people.  Each group of 30 workshop participants were drawn from the ECB, Gewog Administration, the School Sector and representatives of the Non-Formal Education network. The participants all have a role to play in the important work of civic education in the electoral environment in Bhutan and they face similar, ongoing challenges in their work. 

The training was conducted by facilitators Cate Thompson and Brian Latham, AEC and Kinley, ECB.

The Civic Education and Voter Information modules provide a much-needed framework and methodology for election managers, educators and other providers of civic education and to potential voters and society at large. At the core of the Civic Education module are the values and principles of transparency, participation, responsiveness, accountability, empowerment and equity.  Issues of access, gender, representation and planning are also explored.  Participants gained knowledge, skills and experience in the workshops to further develop personal attributes for use in civic education and voter information in Bhutan – a key focus area for the ECB.

The workshops covered universal international civic education and voter information standards and principles, explored different types of programs, studied different mediums and delivery methods, examined elements of preparation, design and planning, implementation, issues and evaluation.

Participants were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and creative.  The groups were passionate about civic education and valued the opportunity to learn and thereby to enhance their role in Bhutan’s democratic journey. The interactive workshop style and the large variety of activities undertaken tapped into the knowledge of the group and facilitation skills of facilitators.

Participants’ comments included:

“I was able to grasp the ideas of democracy in other countries form the interesting case studies.”  “I am surely going to use this in my English Teaching Class immediately I reach my school – Promise! J”  “Working in teams is so important.”  “A lot of ideas I have never heard or experienced before.”  “I learnt how to plan and communicate to people for Civic Education and Voter Information.”  “Informative and strategic strategies will help me in Civic Education.”  “The useful thing I have learnt is that I have come to know how to face the crowd and most of all it has made me courageous!”  “Builds my confidence!”  “I am having the best time of my life.”

The workshops were graciously opened at ceremonies attended by the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, and other dignitaries. Dasho Kunzang Wangdi also presented the certificates and closed the second workshop.

Participants, facilitators and senior officers of the ECB look forward with enthusiasm to the continuing series of BRIDGE activities to come!


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