The basics of Civics

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

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THE foundation for a successful and balanced society includes appreciation for the rules that govern the relations we have with fellow citizens and our government. These rules set out the framework not just for our daily lives but also for the future of generations to come. If we cannot appreciate our roots and structure, Jamaica will lose her strength.


Civics in its basic form deals with the study of rights and duties of citizenship, more specifically the study of government with attention to the role of citizens. Civics is also the basis for nation-building and national pride since in appreciating responsibilities, it is expected that harmony can be achieved.


TEENage would like to tackle the issue of the re-introduction of civics into schools nationwide as well as the benefits of such an action.


The main argument in favour of civics education is the fact that those who know will grow into better informed and presumably more socially-conscious members of society. The benefits of this being that these members of society will look at the bigger picture of contributing to their country by helping their fellow man and not just themselves. Furthermore, rules and regulations are geared towards order and once everyone is not just familiar with them but agrees to adhere to them, social harmony can be maintained.


Another major benefit is the fact that civics education teaches you not just about your role as a citizen, but your rights, thus providing defences against abuse by those in higher, lower and equal powers.


However, with other variables taken into consideration one can argue that with this knowledge comes the possible abuse of the rights. This may arise through misconstruing the intended meaning versus the perceived meaning of these roles, rights and responsibilities. Interpretation and varied experiences are the biggest hindrances to citizens carrying out their civic duty since as stated by Aristotle: "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."


Another major factor is the balance of power since rules and regulations tend to benefit some, restrict others and overall create a divide. In teaching civics one would have to stress the importance of equality and working towards the common goal of living a socially harmonious life in Jamaica land we love.


Oftentimes when social difficulties arise, there is one damning finger being pointed to the government to initiate the blame game. We cannot ignore the fact that while we point at them there are three fingers pointing back to citizens who do not fully carry out their roles to assist the government in their cause. The reality is a country like any other gathering of people, is only as strong as the cooperation and team work of the members involved. Civics education as a positive force will equip the minds of citizens with the requisite knowledge about social responsibility and rights. It is what is done with this knowledge that will truly establish the benefits of civics education.


TEENage strongly believes that with the current absence of civics in schools students are not properly equipped with an understanding of their roles as citizens.


As a consequence, ignorance creates a gateway for them to be taken advantage of or just robbed of opportunities in the midst of not knowing their rights. It does come with some negative connotations but the bottom line is, ignorance is no excuse to the law and social building has to start somewhere.


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