The Hanns Seidel Foundation in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation officially launched Civics Academy on the 10th of May. The event achieved an impressive consensus that civic education is indeed a much needed dimension of South Africa’s democracy.
The Hanns Seidel Foundation in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation officially launched Civics Academy on Tuesday the 10th of May. With South Africa’s Public Protector Thuli Madonsela giving the keynote address, the event brought together high profile speakers, guests and youth delegates to celebrate Civics Academy as an important tool for strengthening South Africa’s democracy. The event put Civics Academy on the public’s radar and connected the initiative with potential partners and peers.
Sello Hatang, the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, commented on the significance of the launch date: “Today marks the 22nd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. [Today] reminds us of the great determination that we had that we are going to build the country of our dreams.” The launch was held in the venue that housed the icon’s office after his presidency, further reminding participants of the overarching intention of Civics Academy which is to continue the legacy of South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Dr Mamphela Ramphele and two youth delegates reflected on the first of a series of Civics Academy Dialogue Days. Dr Ramphele stressed that the online platform has to be coupled with initiatives that engage young people. She pointed to the need to scale up the initiative across the country. Committing to take first steps in this direction, Ms Makgabo Reginah Mhaule, the MEC for Education in Mpumalanga, said that through Civics Academy she could popularise the Constitution amongst all young people in her province. Professor Njabulo Ndebele, Chairperson of the Board of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, reminded the audience that the Constitution gives citizens the power to make this democracy work. With that he introduced the keynote speaker, who many call a shining example of responsible citizenship: Advocate Thulisile Nomkhosi Madonsela.
In her keynote address the Public Protector compared the Constitution with a loadstar, which can be a guide to one’s destination if one knows how to use it. Civics Academy, she said, provides young people with the tools to understand the Constitution, so that like the loadstar, it can be used as a guide for the nation. She emphasised the need for dialogue and called upon young people not to use violence.
The launch achieved an impressive consensus that civic education is indeed a crucial dimension of South Africa’s democracy. Civics Academy received critical votes of confidence from the high profile guests and the institutions they represent. Importantly, the Youth Delegates considered Civics Academy to be imperative for their generation. It is with this institutional and individual backing that Civics Academy officially embarks on its mission not only to continue creating first class online educational content but also to develop partnerships that provide opportunities for young people to actively use the Civics Academy material to engage with issues critical to the South African democracy and ultimately be responsible citizens.