Handover of Civic Education Materials in Vanuatu

November 15, 2023
Civic Education

From left: Director General Ian Abbil, Guilain Malessas, and Acting Director General John Kaltau at the handover ceremony.

Photo: UNDP

Port Vila, Vanuatu: The distribution of a new civic education curriculum has been delivered to 27 senior secondary schools in Vanuatu.

Ian Abbil, Acting Director General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and John Kaltau, Acting Director General of Education, announced the distribution at a ceremony held at the country’s Curriculum Development Unit (CDU).

The civic education materials – printed in English and French – include a civic education booklet called “Vanuatu Blong Yu”, a teacher’s guide to using the booklet, and a student workbooks. A Bislama version of these materials will also be available for use in community-based organisations such as Rural Training Centres (RTCs).

The sets of civic education curriculum enrichment materials were presented packed in waterproof storage boxes to be distributed by CDU to schools across all six provinces. In-service training will be organised for teachers in provincial schools utilising the materials.

Both Directors General acknowledged the support of the Government of New Zealand and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project’s (VEEP) technical assistance to the Vanuatu Electoral Office.

The launch of these materials was done in close cooperation with the CDU and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

The VEEP Project – supported by the Government of New Zealand and implemented by UNDP – focuses on strengthening electoral systems and democratic practices to conform to international standards, strengthening political stability through strategies such as building voter engagement, and understanding of the electoral processes through civic education.

“Our young people are our future,” stated Acting Director General Kaltau.

“As citizens, it is essential that they are well-informed about our nation’s Constitution, Parliament and each person’s personal role as responsible individuals in our election system. It is critical that our future voters and leaders understand issues related to good leadership, and transparent electoral governance. These civic education materials focus on the voters of tomorrow,” he said.

Anne-Sofie Gerhard, Project Manager of the VEEP Project commented, “The intent has been accessibility – that is to make understanding of elections, electoral processes and participation in the electoral sector as inclusive as possible. Accordingly, the materials have been developed in French, English and Bislama. The graphics are inclusive showing engagement in electoral processes by men, women, young people, aged and people with a disability. The more people engaged in the electoral sector, understanding their electoral rights and responsibilities, the stronger will be Vanuatu’s democratic processes, electoral transparency and electoral governance.”

Ms. Alana Messant, First Secretary, New Zealand High Commission concurred, “These civic education materials are designed to engage the next generation in making informed choices for their own future and most importantly, the future of their country.”

Civic Education

Civic education is a vital aspect of ensuring that young people are aware of their rights and responsibilities in the democratic process.

Photo: UNDP

Ian Abbil, Acting Director General for the Ministry of Internal Affairs reflected that while the new National School Curriculum had a civic education component included, there needed to be well-designed enrichment materials to build engagement with electoral processes as young students across the nation matured and moved closer to voting age.

The textbook, teacher’s Guide and student workbooks are the outcomes of this request, and support students to explore topics such as What is Democracy?, What is Citizenship?, What Makes a Good Citizen, and Election Procedures in Vanuatu. In addition the curriculum covers topical issues such as Civil Society and Media, Social Media – Misinformation and Disinformation, Human Rights and Democracy, and What Makes a Good Leader?

Director General Kaltau strongly urged users of the resources – teachers and students – to remember that rights are always accompanied by responsibilities.

“Use these booklets to learn about your rights but also to realise that with rights, come the heavy responsibilities of being good citizens. I urge the young people of Vanuatu to exercise their right to vote, fought for by our Independence Fathers. One of the most precious of our freedoms and one of our heaviest responsibilities - and one that so many seem to take for granted - is our right to vote. I hope that with the knowledge gained from these materials that this responsibility will be exercised thoughtfully.”

For more information please contact:

Anne-Sofie Gerhard, VEEP Project Manager | anne-sofie.gerhard@undp.org