Citizenship education and political engagement: voices of Kenyan youth from Nyeri and Nairobi
Chege, Fatuma N.
Wawire, V. K.
Wainaina, Paul K.
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Education plays a major role in equipping individuals with skills that enable them to participate fully as citizens in society. This paper interrogates this in the context of the nature of political engagement for schooled young persons living in impoverished rural and urban settings in Kenya. Using qualitative methods that include focused group discussions and interviews, young people are given a chance to express their views on how education has enabled them to enact their citizenship. They discuss their political identifications, their rights as citizens, and the failure to achieve these, the effects of schooling on their feelings of belonging and inclusion and the perceived potential of second chance education in helping them move forward. The findings indicate that while the Kenyan education system is designed to shape young people’s civic consciousness, varying schooling experiences based on socio-cultural and geographical divides determine the level to which they are able to enjoy their citizenship rights and see possibilities of achieving full citizenship. Young people voice concerns to government which centre on unemployment, security and the importance of listening to young people, which if addressed would improve the civic education outcomes of young people living in impoverished communities. The expressed faith in a perceived necessary link between education and the attainment of full citizenship creates a running theme in the discourse shaping discussions with the youth.