Some of the youths attending the Youth Democracy Camp.

Some of the youths attending the Youth Democracy Camp.

The Institute of Education in Democracy (IED) is this week nurturing a selected group of young people from across the country on democracy with a view of growing their knowledge to be democracy ambassadors in their regions. The project will be cultivating democratic engagement amongst the youth through art and expression in a project called Ni Jukumu Letu: Youth Learning and Living Democracy.


 At a previous press briefing, Carla Chianese, the IED’s Program Head for the Civic Engagement and Flames of Democracy Program laid out the idea behind youth ambassadors in democracy. She said

this project is designed to embody democratic principles in the conceptualization, design and implementation phases, with emphasis on the causal pathway that democracy models work to cultivate the types of citizen characteristics which support a healthy, functioning democracy, such as a sense of justice and personal responsibility, as well as autonomy and individual agency.

  The project is based on an innovative public work program that is currently being implemented in Lebanon, Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Congo; which comprises of Youth Democracy Camps. Carla added that

IED has taken the essence of this model and designed a framework that is premised on learning through democratic values and principles using forms of art and participatory learning.

To IED, the process is critical to making it a worthy project. The organization acknowledges that effective democracies are dynamic, and so too are the ways in which they will instill values and skills to promote the demand for good governance. Public participation being a new concept in Kenya and a value in the Constitution, the project is meant to enlighten young people on this critical issue. Carla explained that

While it is important that citizens are knowledgeable about their democratic systems and processes, as well as issues of democratic importance, democracies are founded on principles such as equality and participatory decision-making, therefore if adequately addressed; education for democracy strategies can provide a framework for lifelong participation in building engaged and effective citizens and communities, especially at this poignant time

The project is premised on ensuring that it becomes a transformative civic education program. It embraces citizen-centered learning through democracy, rather than about democracy, which was inspired by the Jukumu Letu program. IED is of the view that democracy needs to be learned, practiced and experienced. Learning about democracy occurs and is most effective when learning through democratic experience. Teaching about democracy is less effective.

In this undertaking,  IED’s specific contribution to Jukumu Letu, is to focus on the role of art and participatory learning in helping achieve democratic transformation among the youth and how this can be transformed into engagement platforms. In order to achieve this, this project will implement a Youth Democracy Camp;

a platform for creative expression and learning through citizen-centered engagement hubs. These learning hubs will use varied forms or art such as music, theatre, and spoken word to cultivate youth voice and alternate narratives on social issues of importance in relation to the Constitution as determined by them. The objective of the Youth Democracy Camp is to promote learning on democracy and governance, as well as to provide participants with the opportunity to develop community 5 engagement action plans that will have concrete outcomes in improving aspects of democratic governance in their own communities. We are inviting two participants from each of the target 20 counties we are working with across the country to participate in the Youth Democracy Camp.


After the camp, the Youth Democracy Ambassadors will engage their communities for a period of one month. After that, there will be a learning and dialogue platform and then finally a showcase/exhibition event at the end of the year.