IEBC enhancing Electoral Democracy in Learning Institutions
Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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One of the students casting his vote during the elections [PHOTO| Leonard Wamalwa|West Fm]
As the country’s elections body embarks on serious activities of preparing for the next General Elections in March next year, over 1100 students of Kapenguria boys’ High School had a privilege to taste the services of the Commission in a style of their own.
The students who were participating in the elections of their prefects had the whole exercise taken over by the Commission Officials in the region through the supply of voting materials and educating the students and teachers who acted as clerks and presiding officers in the elections.
Kapenguria Constituency Coordinator of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Martin Simotwo told journalists at the school during the exercise that the move was meant to nurture democracy among the young students.
“As a commission we feel that it is important for us to assist the Institutions so that the young learners can understand the principles of democracy especially how to hold free and fair elections and know that one can win or lose in an election,” the coordinator said.
He said that by the commission assisting the students to hold free and fair elections, students will grow up knowing that election is a principal of choosing leaders and getting them democratically.
The commission facilitated the school with materials such as ballot boxes, seals and booths that were to be used as a start in such exercises.
Simotwo further noted that the youths are being prepared to become voters and leaders and can also become advocators for peaceful elections especially as the country prepares to go in for the forthcoming General Elections under the New Laws.
“These are the people who will tomorrow become voters or leaders and thus the earlier they learn about the processes of voting the better. Having this exercise in this school is to nurture peaceful and democratic elections,” noted the coordinator.
“The youngsters are also seen as the people whom politicians use to cause violence and thus educating them earlier on elections matters will engage them positively towards polling exercises,” he added.
The School Students’ Elections Process is the first to be overseen by IEBC in the West Pokot County. Simotwo pointed out that similar exercises were conducted in some schools in Bungoma County and other places in the country.
He added that the Commission is fully committed to work jointly with learning Institutions because most of the electioneering exercises are always conducted in schools with a bigger percentage of teachers being hired by the Commission as Clerks or Presiding Clerks or Officers.
Schools that want to embrace the same way of students voting for their leaders can place their requests for assistance from the Commission which is said to be ready and willing to assist in many aspects.
The coordinator revealed that the Commission has also been involved in overseeing elections in other Institutions such as KFF, Law society of Kenya and African Union Departments.
At the same time the School Principal Peter Lochakapong said that the move to have students elect their leaders was reached by the Secondary Schools Heads Association and had been going on in different schools for the last three years.
West Pokot County Director of Education John Owino addressing teachers and students before the results of the exercise were announced [photo| Leonard Wamalwa|WestFm]
He urged other Schools to embrace the process for School Administrations to avoid conflicts with the students who in some cases cause unrest in the Institutions because of the differences between them and the leaders who are appointed by teachers and School Administrations.
“As School Heads we reached the decision of giving the students the opportunity to elect their own leaders in a free and fair democratic way because we realized that they respect leaders they elect by themselves and conflicts are less likely to occur,” Lochakapong said.
The exercise attracted Stakeholders from the Education Sector in the County led by the County Director of Education John Owino who witnessed the whole exercise.