Civic and Voter Education

In Sri Lanka, the voter education and information campaigns for national elections are carried out by the Department of Elections of Sri Lanka, national government, local governments, NGOs and civic organizations, and media. At the national level, the voter education programs are conducted only during the election time.

The national civic education campaigns (rights and responsibilities of citizens) are conducted by NGOs, civic organizations, political parties and candidates.

Civic education has become a part of school syllabus since primary level. The subject “Civics and Governance” was introduced as a new subject for students in Grade 10-11 in 2007. The subject contains 5 broad themes as democratic government, decentralization and devolution of power, multicultural society, economic systems and economic relations, and conflict resolution in a democratic society.

CSOs and NGOs have taken an important role to carry out voter education and voter awareness projects too. During the 2015 Elections, Sri Lanka’s election monitoring organizations Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) , and People’s Actions for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL)  have conducted many activities at local and national levels to involve and encourage voters to become more aware and to vote at the  2015 parliamentary elections.

CaFFE conducted voter education programs through mobile platforms social and new media, as well as distributing leaflets, focusing on how to vote, what a person should pay attention to when voting and the need to elect clean candidate.

Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is another organization that was formed in 1996, in the firm belief that the vital contribution of civil society to the public policy debate is in need of strengthening. CPA is committed to programs of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated.

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) took a number of initiatives to raise voter awareness and strengthen the fundamental right to the franchise. CMEV carried out three hundred public awareness events on the method of voting under the prevailing electoral system. CMEV also conducted an island-wide information programme for Grama Niladhari officers on their role in the elections process.  In addition, following the historic decision by the Elections Commissioner to facilitate the exercise of the franchise by elderly and disabled citizens, CMEV together with a collective of voluntary civil society organizations launched a public awareness campaign in support of this. At the core of this campaign is the inclusion of all citizens of Sri Lanka irrespective of their disability to be provided with the necessary facilities to cast their votes at assigned polling stations.

CMEV worked on this issue in collaboration with Enable Lanka Foundation (ELF), Dr Shyamani Hettiarachchi (Department of Disability Studies – University of Kelaniya), CBM Sri Lanka, DayaniPanagoda, Technical Advisor to GIZ, International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES), Navajeewana Rehabilitation (Tangalle) and Wheels in Motion (WIM), Zahabia Adamaley.

 Source Civics and Governance, Grade 10, Teachers’ Instruction Manual, Department of Social Sciences, National Institution of Education, Maharagama, 2007

Resources : 

PIC : Infographic explains how to cast vote and avoid making it invalid (CMEV: 2015)
PIC : Infographic shows voter turnout in the regions (CMEV: 2015) 
PIC : Infographic shows voter turnout at Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka (CMEV: 2015)


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