Civics Academy Newsletter

Volume 1 2023

Dear Civics Academy Community!

The year has started off at full speed for the Civics Academy team, with many valuable stakeholder engagements taking place, among others with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the City of Cape Town (CoCT) as well as many fellow CSOs. This shows the growing awareness of the importance of Civic and Democracy Education as we head toward National and Provincial Elections in 2024.

We are delighted to share some of the latest highlights with you and also offer a sneak preview of what is to come in the next few months.

As always, we are grateful for your ongoing support! Enjoy the read!


Cultivating Democracy through Civic Education Training with the South African Electoral Commission

In 2022 we started our collaboration with the South African Electoral Commission (IEC), providing training on different aspects of civic and voter education for more than 500 Local Electoral Project Officers (LEPOs), who are responsible for Civic and Voter Education for the Commission. This year, we continued our collaboration with the IEC by training more staff, specifically 200 Regional Outreach Officers (ROOs) and Regional Assistant Managers (RAMs), who are getting ready for General Elections in 2024. The training, led by a South African constitutional law expert, covered topics such as the Constitution, governance, local government, civic participation and elections, and was well received by the participants, as evidenced by the following statement:

My highlight was learning that the Constitution is a living document. We knew the Constitution, but we explored it in a way that we hadn’t explored it before”

In June this year, the IEC in partnership with Civics Academy, began capacitating IEC stakeholders in the field of the civic and voter education, starting with faith-based communities in Gauteng. 70 members of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) attended two Civics Academy workshops focusing on the critical role that faith-based communities can play in strengthening civic education. Next on the IEC’s list of stakeholders are young people and youth organisations! We look forward to being part of the IEC’s ongoing civic education efforts to strengthen South Africa’s participatory democracy.

Civics Academy takes Civic Education to National TV!

Civics Academy is making strides in reaching a wider audience as we have entered into a collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to broadcast our Civics Academy videos on national television – how cool is that? Our videos on democracy, the Constitution, governance and local government were broadcasted on the Department of Basic Education’s TV channel 112 (DBE TV) in April as the DBE launched its Schools Democracy Education Month. This channel is OpenView, meaning free for the public to stream. Keep an eye out for more Civics Academy TV presence as Parliament TV explores the possibility of broadcasting our videos too.

Civics Academy collaborates with the DBE, DHET and IEC to promote Peer-to-Peer Civic Education Learning

Further collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is on the cards as Civics Academy and the Department of Higher Education (DHET) seek to select students from TVET colleges trained in citizenship education to engage with secondary school students in their respective areas on civic and electoral matters. This initiative is designed to promote peer-to-peer learning and will help further the understanding of democratic processes and principles among young people.

Strengthening Civic Education in Institutions of Learning

Successful democracies depend on active, informed citizens and a deeper understanding of societal issues, which is why Civics Academy works in partnership with educational institutions to strengthen citizenship education. On 29th March, we organised a stakeholder engagement on citizenship education with representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Electoral Commission (IEC) and lecturers from Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to take stock and evaluate the first outcomes of the project “Civics Academy Lecturer Guide: Facilitating Active Citizenship”, a capacity building project with the DHET for Life Orientation lecturers at TVET colleges.

The following day, at Tshwane South TVET College, 70 TVET Life Orientation lecturers from across the country were trained in using the Lecturer Guide and videos. The lecturers who attended the workshop held their own training sessions at their various colleges to ensure that all Life Orientation lecturers at their colleges were trained on the guide.

Civics Academy trains Cape Town’s Metro Police Recruits

A new civic education pilot project with the City of Cape Town’s Metro Police was launched in July. More than 70 Law Enforcement trainees are being trained in a three-day tailor-made Civics Academy training course at the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Police Training Academy, facilitated by a South African constitutional law expert. Topics covered include the Constitution, the Rule of Law, Governance, Local Government, Batho Pele Principles, Citizen Participation and Values of Policing. We are very excited about this new partnership with the City of Cape Town and have been enjoying the active engagement with these young law enforcement officer recruits. We look forward to seeing this initiative grow and develop! Check out our Insta picture story!

A new Civics Academy Website for Zimbabwe

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new Zimbabwe sub-page on the Civics Academy website. On this page you will find content exclusively related to the Zimbabwean context, aimed at informing and educating the public, especially the youth, about democratic processes and promoting active citizenship. Currently available are a video series on governance and our latest series on elections in Zimbabwe. The Governance Series explores different aspects of democratic governance and the concept of separation of powers as one of the key features of democracy. Our Election Series looks at different aspects of elections, why they are a key feature of democracy and how public representatives are elected at local, provincial and national levels. As we are constantly expanding our content (videos, podcasts, working materials), please check the Civics Academy South Africa and Zimbabwe websites regularly for the latest developments and/or subscribe to our newsletter below.


New ZIM Video Series: Elections

In our new Civics Academy Elections Series for Zimbabwe, we explore different aspects of elections and why they are a central feature of democracy. This series consists of 5 videos, in which we explain what free and fair elections are, how votes translate into seats in Parliament, the role and functions of elected representatives on the national, provincial, and local levels of government, the role and functions of political parties and why citizens should vote. Click on each title below to view the video.

  1. How does the Electoral System work in Zimbabwe?
  2. Why should you vote?
  3. What are free & fair Elections?
  4. What are Political Parties?
  5. What are Elected Representatives in Zimbabwe?

New Video: What are Coalitions?

Take a look at our new video in our Civics Academy Governance Series. In this series we explore different aspects of democratic governance and in our latest video we focus on coalitions in South Africa.

Coalitions are not uncommon in South Africa, especially in local government. But what exactly is a coalition? A coalition is when two or more political parties agree to work together and temporarily share power. This is usually the result of an election in which no single party has won a majority of the votes cast.