The EEIC’s informative and interactive approach to electoral education is making learning enjoyable
Sheema Chapagain, a tenth grader at Vidya Sadan School, expected the Electoral Education and Information Centre (EEIC) to be a boring place. “But I’m surprised at how fun it actually is,” she says. The EEIC provides an informative, interactive and, ultimately, interesting learning experience on civic and voter education, and, if Sheema’s reaction is any indication, this approach is turning out to be quite appealing to the youth. Sheema now plans to register for a voter identity card when she turns sixteen.
The EEIC was established in 2011 within the Election Commission of Nepal’s (ECN) premises to provide civic and voter education in an accessible manner. “The centre draws approximately 100 visitors per day,” informs Pramila Koirala, Senior Assistant at the Election Commission and an educator at the EEIC. A total of 31,294 visitors have visited the EEIC until mid-August 2019.
The centre is a vibrant venue that provides information on electoral procedures, the constitution, democracy, political parties and political processes. It is equipped with hi-tech electronic apparatuses to facilitate learning in a dynamic environment. Visitors can watch documentaries on the ECN’s role in elections, listen to information about elections from across the world and also engage in mock-polling. There is also an interactive quiz centre.
Sushma Rai, head of the Social Studies department at Vidya Sadan School, believes that the EEIC brings the social studies textbooks to life and, in the process, adds value to the knowledge of the students. Tanka Mishra, Math teacher at the same school, thinks that the curriculum available at the EEIC is comprehensive, updated and easy to grasp. “That’s why the students enjoy learning in this environment,” he states.
While most visitors are from schools and academia, individuals from the security forces and political parties too step in sometimes. Although the centre attracts many people, Mamata Shrestha, educator at the EEIC, is aware that there are many voters that the EEIC is yet to reach. “We have EEICs in three places in the country – Kathmandu, Dhangadi and Pokhara. These centres are also equipped with three sets of mobile EEICs to extend coverage to remote areas,” she says. The ECN plans to establish an EEIC in each of the seven provinces to ensure that voter and civic education is accessible to all citizens. The goal is to ensure that no vote is invalid.
Currently sustained by the ECN, the Kathmandu EEIC was established by the Electoral Support Project with support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and UNDP. It is operated free of cost and is open to anyone wanting to learn about Nepal’s electoral processes.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission Nepal (ECN) to conduct credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. The ESP is currently funded by the EU.