The Dublin Adult Learning Centre (DALC) is delighted to take over the delivery of the Active Citizenship/Voter Education programme from the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ). We are excited and look forward to continuing this important work in civic education/education for democracy and social justice started by Sr Bernadette and her colleagues.
The Voter Education programme is an excellent programme that is based on sound principles of justice and equality. The VPSJ delivered the programme over three decades with many community groups in Dublin and all over Ireland.
DALC provides adult education programmes to ensure that everyone in the inner city has the opportunity to avail of their right to develop their literacy and numeracy skills. In our experience, people with literacy difficulties or people who are excluded and marginalised are often not registered to vote and do not exercise their right to vote. We believe that education is empowering and assists people reach their potential and to participate fully in society. Exercising your vote is essential to this.
In DALC, we have always been aware of the work of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice (VPSJ). We have always included elements of voting, current affairs and issues in our literacy teaching, more specifically around election time. However, in 2021, DALC was beginning to explore issues more specifically on democracy, voting and systems of government and we approached Sr. Bernadette Mac Mahon to explore this more. A new partnership emerged as we discovered the VPSJ was winding down its work and, therefore DALC tutors were trained in April/May 2022 to begin the management, delivery and dissemination of this programme.
We are delighted to take the opportunity of delivering this programme as we feel it is important for the participation of all citizens to have a voice and an equal say in the democratic process. We believe that active citizenship and voter participation chimes with DALC’s core values of student/person centred, promoting equality, transformative change and being community based.
This Active Citizenship/Voter Education programme is the creative outcome of three years of study, consultation and work by NETWORK Washington - a social justice lobby group which was established in 1971. Since then, NETWORK has been educating and lobbying for social change as it pursues its goal to create a society that respects the dignity of each person, promotes the good of all; provides just access to national resources and is attentive to the needs of people who are poor.
The programme is part of NETWORK’s effort to educate and organise people to confidently and actively participate in the political process affecting their lives. The VPSJ adapted the programme with the permission of the NETWORK for use in Ireland and have been running it for almost three decades. It is the experience of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice that this programme has provided a valuable resource for community leaders and for all who are committed to addressing the situation in disadvantaged areas where a relatively small number of people vote in elections. As a consequence their views are not taken into consideration by many of the political parties as they formulate and implement their policies.
The course content is varied and includes a variety of group exercises that give people the tools to engage with voting. It is non-party political: it shows people the importance of voting, how to vote but crucially not who to vote for. It makes people think about who and how people hold power and more importantly, brings the participants through the process of registering to vote. Moreover, the course is about making the system of voting and democracy more inclusive and more equal for all our citizens.
Specifically, the course comprises
- Unit I Explores with people the reasons to vote and demonstrates how to register and how to vote.
- Unit 2 Considers ways of taking an informed stance on important issues facing people today.
- Unit 3 Outlines a process for evaluating election manifestos in the light of a more just society and presents an approach to choosing candidates on an informed basis.
- There are two additional units, Units 4 and 5, which focus on European and Local Elections.
Our aim is to carry on the work of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice and deliver Active Citizenship/Voter Education workshops on a national basis with adult and community organisations, both directly to community group participants as well as ‘train the trainer’ method where tutors and group facilitators are trained to deliver the materials and programme themselves. In addition, DALC is also taking over the management of the website vote.ie ( linked here ) . We officially launched the handover of the programme on Wednesday 8th March in DALC, 3 Mountjoy Square.
For more details on any of the above, please email: email@example.com