Event Reports

Enhancing civic education at the grassroots through reliable access to information

Continuous and effective civic education is crucial to strengthen democracy and good governance in Uganda. On 12th – 14th April KAS and HIM (Hub for Investigative Media) held a Training of Trainers Workshop for member organizations of GAIN Uganda, focusing on access to information in order to improve civic education trainings at the grassroots level.

GAIN Uganda is a network of several member organizations, aiming at promoting accountability and good governance by carrying out sustainable grassroots civic education activities at the district level. Civic engagement is still low in Uganda, which is why GAIN continues to conduct aid trainings for local leaders in the area of accountability, civic action, participation and access to information. So far, the network has developed various civic education materials like the recently launched Democracy Workbook in cooperation with KAS and the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance. Such materials have become an important resource to facilitate civic education trainings and have allowed the network to reach out to over 13 districts in Uganda.

After the official opening by the KAS country director Mathias Kamp, the workshop kicked off with a first discussion on women participation at the local level. Agripinner Nandhego, Program Specialist at UN Women, gave a short overview about their work and measures on how to effectively empower women in Uganda. Afterwards, participants were able to share experiences and give updates about current observations and developments in their districts concerning women empowerment. “For sustainable women empowerment, you have to include men. If men are not taking part in this process, they will always put women down”, as one of the district representatives stated. The discussion also provided a platform for GAIN members, to share ideas and discuss about strategies for better involvement of women.

Going on, Edward Sekyewa from Hub for Investigative Media (HIM) took over with a session on access to information, talking about the freedom of information as a fundamental human right for Ugandan citizens. Despite the Access to Information Act from 2005 and other regulations developed by the Ugandan government, the country still faces several challenges in fully harnessing these laws for the society. Access to relevant and truthful information is a fundamental tool, to promote an efficient, accountable and transparent Government and to allow the society to stay informed and participate in important decisions. Thus, access to information is also highly needed when it comes to effective civic education training. By capacitating members of GAIN Uganda to use their right of accessing relevant information, they will be able to effectively improve their trainings carried out in the district and enhance good governance and accountability in Uganda.

On the second day of the workshop, Diana Namanda from HIM held a session on how to work with the Access to Information Act and its regulations. Starting with an overview about the key concepts and principles of access to information, participants received broad knowledge about the importance of the laws and how to enforce them effectively. At the end of the two-days training, GAIN members were able to understand their rights on access to information and to use the regulations for their work field to enhance civic education trainings within the districts.