Studies suggest that participation in the first one or two elections of an elector’s lifetime helps to inculcate the habit of voting and makes participation in future elections more likely. The importance of developing the practice of citizenship development for electoral participation is vital to investment in the future of democracy. It is necessary to focus on the younger generation for civic education leading to robust electoral participation. Keeping this rationale in view, the Election Commission of India (ECI) took a landmark step towards the cause of electoral literacy with its initiative - ‘Mainstreaming of Electoral Literacy through Educational Institutions, Organizations and Communities in India’, under its Systematic Voters’ Education & Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Programme.
The entire project revolves around keeping voter education relevant and practical through a host of curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular methods for the young (18-21 years) and future (14-17 years) voters. This year, ECI committed its efforts towards the inclusion of electoral literacy through the medium of Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) in educational institutions, organisations as well as in rural communities via Chunav Pathshalas.
A total of seven comprehensive resource guides have been created for the ELCs programme. These are -
Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for class IX
Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for class X
Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for class XI
Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for class XII
Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for colleges
Chunav Pathshala Electoral Literacy Club Resource Guide for communities
ELCs common handbook
Along with these resource guides, an ELC game kit consisting of five floor games has also been developed.
The resource guides and games have been developed in Hindi and English. States shall translate the content in their regional languages and adapt them to suit regional and local sensibilities.
The resource guides and floor games can be accessed at http://ecisveep.nic.in .
Set-up of ELCs
ELC shall be for each Class and Section. While the Electoral Literacy Clubs for each school grade will be different and consist of a set of activities unique to that particular grade, the activities for different Sections at each grade shall remain the same. The ELC shall conduct activity class wise in a scheduled class/session. One or two teachers from the Humanities Department of the School will act as the Nodal Officers and mentors of the ELC. There would be a teacher for each class who will conduct the ELC activity. Alternately, there may be a group of teachers who may conduct the ELCs of various classes. The training of the teachers shall be taken up by the Nodal Officer. The teachers shall be guided by the Nodal Officer in the conduct of the ELC activities. A balance between Senior secondary schools within every state and district will be identified by the office of the District Election Officer (DEO), schools are being covered under phases.
ELCs and PwDs
The ELCs have been envisioned as inclusive clubs that must make every attempt to ensure the participation of students with disabilities. To ensure this, every ELC shall follow the following guidelines –
The Convener shall make efforts to promote inclusion and sensitize members about the same.
It should be tried to ensure that the venue for ELC activity is easily accessible.
If a student with hearing impairment is attending the meeting, a sign language interpreter should be made available for their convenience (the interpreter can be a companion that the student already has).
Any activity conducted in the club should not leave behind students with disabilities.
Going Online: ELC Resources on SVEEP Portal
The Election Commission of India has developed a new portal for SVEEP where all tools and instructions regarding ELCs can be easily accessed by the Master Trainers (MTs) and the portal provides a discussion forum to the ELC MTs. The portal will also serve as a mechanism for collecting feedback, for reviewing the resource tools and updating them.
A tool for trainings: the ELC Documentary
For the purpose of being used as a visual aid in the cascade training strategy, ECI is also preparing a documentary on ELCs which is essentially a collection of major activities under the project, shot and assembled in the format of tutorials.
The documentary is being produced in Hindi as well as in English along with captions for the convenience of persons with hearing disabilities.
Assessment by National Law University
ELC is indeed one of the most ambitious and challenging projects of the ECI. Well begun is half done, and a good beginning has already been made. An independent evaluation of the project has also been sanctioned by the Commission and evaluation shall be simultaneously carried out so that necessary corrections can be made for successful achievement of the objectives. Research scholars from NLU are on board with ECI for conducting an evaluation and impact assessment research on the effectiveness of the ELC programme. NLU has planned out its research methodology and timelines. It is currently preparing tools for carrying out the research.
Edited by Apoorv Tiwary