Participatory practices for citizenship training and community development ensuring respect for human rights and democratic life in Nairobi County.
Following the promulgation of the 2010 Kenyan constitution, it became clear that there was a need for a sustained programme for civic education within the vulnerable population group, given the lack of awareness of their rights under the new constitution. In the informal settlements in Nairobi County, residents lack the most basic social services, are below the poverty line and are semi-literate, which undermines their ability to deal with government authorities.
As part of the social engagement programme of the Institute for Social Transformation, the 2-year Diploma in Civic and Development Education was introduced, with onsite and online activities. Thirty undergraduates from different degrees take part as a requirement to graduate.
The actions of these undergraduates benefit six informal settlements in Nairobi County (Huruma, Kibera, Kariobangi, Korogocho, Mathare and BabaDogo): 75 students from non-formal schools and 3,000 community members.
The DCDE activities combine three elements: academic, research and community engagement. Regarding learning aspects, knowledge is acquired based on the Constitution and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The research dimension consists of students surveying local issues to record them, raise critical awareness and encourage transformative action. Community engagement includes direct contact with the community as a requirement for the learning process, and as an expression of social responsibility.
Some of the students’ actions tackled community health education. They also addressed the prevention of addictions in children and adolescents, school follow-up and reintegration through the organisation of artistic activities: music, theatre, dance and poetry, with messages about the disadvantages of drug abuse.
Other actions focused on community empowerment to care for and rescue adolescent mothers by means of discussing the problem and contacting an NGO that offered them psychosocial support, job training, and education to prevent abuse and abortions.
As a result of the community development practices of the undergraduates, the attitude of the community members has changed. Believing in their capacities, they take action, demand the authorities to provide better services and are willing to participate in initiatives to improve their quality of life without relying exclusively on the state’s support. They also participate freely and voluntarily in community meetings and decision-making processes without demanding subsidies from the students, and undertake the actions agreed upon as a community.
The programme builds situated knowledge based on the constitution of Kenya (CoK), Vision 2030 and sustainable development, grounded in local experiences and perspectives, humanistic dreams and aspirations, dialogue and peace-building.