Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders by Teaching Democracy at Tender Care Pharo School Nairobi

By Frank Ogallo

In a world where democracy stands as a cornerstone of societal governance, educating young minds about its principles is paramount. At Tender Care Pharo School Nairobi, this commitment to nurturing future leaders extends beyond academic excellence. Through a hands-on approach to learning, students are not just studying democracy but experiencing it first-hand. As we reflect on the recent elections at our school, we delve into the nuances of imparting democratic values to the next generation.

The recent student elections at Tender Care Pharo School Nairobi marked an interesting moment in our institution's history. There were more male candidates than usual in this years election and for the first time, a male candidate was elected as president. In the past, most candidates to step forward have been female, and the elected presidents for the past 25 years have been female students. This has created a trend of female leadership within the school, which is an encouraging sight, however, we are equally glad to welcome a male electee.

As young learners navigating the complexities of democracy, they encounter its multifaceted nature. From electing class MPs to organising campaigns reminiscent of national elections, students grasp the parallels between our school's electoral process and the country's political system. Just as MPs, Presidents, Governors, and Deputies govern our school, so do their counterparts lead at higher levels in our country.

Moreover, the involvement of students as returning officers responsible for overseeing elections, underscores the importance of civic responsibility and active participation. By assuming roles in the electoral process, students not only learn about democracy but also become ambassadors of its values, fostering a culture of accountability and transparency.

The recent elections have also underscored the importance of institutions like the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which was present on voting day to oversee a free and fair election. Just as the IEBC ensures fairness and transparency in national elections, its presence at our school reaffirms our commitment to upholding democratic ideals.

In Kenya, the IEBC is responsible for overseeing and conducting elections at both national and local levels, ensuring fairness, transparency, and integrity throughout the electoral process. They played a key role in ensuring the integrity of our school elections and the children benefitted a lot from interacting with their expertise. Beyond oversight, the IEBC provided comprehensive training to teachers and learners on various aspects of the electoral process. From understanding the principles of campaigning to voter education and the intricacies of vote counting, students received a holistic education in democratic governance.

Through simulations and practical exercises, students gained first-hand experience in the electoral process, learning about the importance of voter education, the significance of every vote, and the responsibilities of elected representatives. The presence of the IEBC not only instilled confidence in the fairness of our elections but also underscored the broader societal importance of transparent and accountable governance.

However, amidst these triumphs, challenges persist. Misconceptions, such as assuming the first person on the ballot as the winner, underscore the need for continued education on democratic principles. It is imperative to address these misconceptions and equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to navigate the complexities of governance.

The entire process started weeks before the actual election day, as students began campaigning passionately for the role they wanted to represent. The use of creative campaign tactics, such as distributing sweets to garner support, providing posters explaining what each candidate intends to do and collaborating with campaign teams highlights the enthusiasm of our young leaders. These initiatives engage students across different grade levels and foster camaraderie and collaboration within our school community. With over eight candidates vying for the prestigious position of school president, each accompanied by dedicated running mates, the competition was fierce yet inspiring. Campaign posters adorned the school halls, passionate speeches echoed in the corridors, and debates resonated fervently as candidates articulated their visions for our school's future.

The registration process for the student elections was meticulously organized, drawing upon the school's comprehensive register of students across different classes and grades. While younger students required assistance to cast their votes, the senior grades demonstrated independence in exercising their democratic rights. A discernible buzz filled the air on the voting day as students eagerly lined up to vote. Remarkably, the voter turnout reached an astounding 100%, highlighting our student body's unwavering spirit and engagement in the democratic process. With the election process successfully concluded, students emerged not only as leaders but also as active participants in shaping the future of our school.

As the voting concluded, anticipation grew for the announcement of results. When the results were finally announced, cheers erupted throughout the school as their peers congratulated the newly elected leaders. This display of camaraderie and support underscored the sense of unity and community spirit, and representatives from the IEBC were quick to note how peaceful our pupils were in response.

Over the last decade, significant strides have been made in East Africa in terms of democratic governance. However, political instability, electoral fraud, and limited civic engagement persist. As we strive to build resilient democracies, the role of education in shaping informed and active citizens becomes increasingly crucial. Democratic societies thrive when citizens are not just spectators but active participants in shaping their collective destiny.

Teaching democracy to students at Tender Care Pharo School Nairobi is not just about imparting knowledge; it's about shaping future citizens who are informed, engaged, and empowered. As we navigate the challenges and triumphs of our electoral process, we reaffirm our commitment to nurturing democratic values and fostering a culture of active citizenship. By instilling these principles early on, we pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future where every voice matters. After all, democracy isn't just a system of governance—it's a way of life.