The Election Commission wants students to learn from the secondary-school level how to become responsible voters.
In a bid to educate 15 to 17-year-old ‘future voters’, who would enrol as voters when they turn 18, the Election Commission has asked the Union HRD ministry to introduce ‘electoral literacy’ in the curriculum at the secondary school level.
And till the time the subject becomes part of the curriculum, the Commission has asked the HRD ministry to ask the NCERT to bring out a booklet on elections and electoral process “that may be included in the list of supplementary reading material for schools at appropriate level”.
Last July, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi had written to HRD minister Prakash Javadekar requesting him to include ‘electoral literacy’ in the curriculum.
“It is felt that introducing electoral literacy curriculum in a systematic manner will go a long way in strengthening electoral literacy. Therefore, EC proposes that the same may be included in the curricula and as co-curricular in schools at secondary level and if required even at higher levels,” Zaidi wrote to Javadekar.
In August, Javadekar responded saying the poll panel’s request was examined in consultation with NCERT which prepares the National School Curriculum Framework for the country.
“The current textbook materials of the NCERT are based on National Curriculum Framework, 2005. The suggestion of the Election Commission will be taken into account when NCERT takes up next revision of the curriculum. I would like to inform you that at present the ministry is engaged in the process of preparation of a New Education Policy,” Javadekar said.
He also said existing Political Science textbooks prepared by the NCERT have many details about the electoral process.
Not willing to wait, Zaidi has now written again to the Union minister requesting him that as an interim measure, the NCERT can be asked by the government to come out with a booklet on election and electoral process.
The CEC also informed the minister that several democracies across the world have electoral literacy as part of their school curricula.
The poll panel launched a unique programme this January called ‘interactive school engagement’ under which close to 5,000 electoral registration officers, district election officers and the Chief Electoral Officers visited one school to interact with the students of Class IX to XII, in the age- group of 15-17 years, took question-answers, shared creative contents, distributed badges and administered pledges.
In India, over 62 million persons fall in the age group of 15 to 17 years and have been described as ‘future voters’ by the Election Commission.
“Every year, 20 million persons out of the future voters turn 18 to become first time voters. Future voters have generally not been in the focus of the Commission. Now, under Systematic Voter Education Programme, the Commission will lay special focus on this group in the year 2017 and onward. We hope that the first time and future voters will get encouraged to be part of electoral process,” Zaidi had said at the National Voters Day on January 25.