New Delhi: A two-day workshop & orientation program on Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) for Civil Society Organizations from 24 States and UTs and State Level Master Trainers from Maharashtra and Haryana was organized on 28 and 29 November, 2019 at the United Service Institution of India, New Delhi. After the 2019 Lok Sabha Election, it was decided to conduct workshops to take feedback from the Civil Society Organizations working at the grassroots level for Voter Awareness and reaching out to voters through ELCs, said a Press release from the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The workshop was attended by 53 participants from across the country, and each member had an opportunity to share thei experiences that sought to highlight Impact Assessment in Recent Elections, Experiences from the Field, Feedback and the Way Forward. The collective inputs were further presented to Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Secretary General Umesh Sinha, along with other senior officials of the Commission.
Election Commissioner Chandra thanked the participants for their efforts in the field and said, “Today I felt so good after hearing the contributions, the volition and the work that you have done voluntarily for the democracy. The historic voter turnout is the culmination of the continuous efforts of various stakeholders. Even after achieving a historic feat, we still have challenges, and those can be solved only through continuous efforts. Youngsters are the reservoirs of energy. Students in colleges are most important because they are our youngest voters. College ELCs should empower them with knowledge on importance of their role and responsibilities to vote.”
Chandra emphasized that in all the Polling Booths in the country, the message should be heard that ink is of the utmost importance and it should be delivered in the language of the people. He urged the CSO partners to identify the problems and critical gaps and give their suggestions to the Commission for enhancing voter’s participation in the forthcoming elections.
Addressing the special session of the workshop, Secretary General Umesh Sinha said, “Through the establishment of Electoral Literacy Clubs, we are trying to sow a seed that will grow and act as a lamp of electoral awareness to dissipate the darkness of electoral ignorance. I believe, elections are the bedrock of democracy and in the edifice of democracy, every voter is like a brick. Your right to vote is not only a right – it is equally an important responsibility that contributes to the making of the nation. It is very important that people feel responsible enough and participate in every election.”
Sinha directed the SVEEP division to compile feedback and suggestions given by the CSOs & other participants and present it for the consideration of the Commission.
Under its flagship program ‘Systematic Voters’ Education & Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP), the project for Mainstreaming of Electoral Literacy through Educational Institutions and Organizations was introduced which envisages the setting up of an Electoral Literacy Club in every educational institution and Chunav Pathshala at every booth to cover those outside the formal education system.
Launched on the 8th National Voters’ Day on 25 January 2018, ELCs shall serve as a vibrant hub of Electoral Literacy for developing and strengthening the culture of electoral participation through hands on experience, said the Press release, adding that so far 580,620 ELCs have been established across the country.
The entire project revolves around keeping voter education relevant and practical through a host of co-curricular and extra-curricular methods for young and future voters. The ELCs and Chunav Pathshala activities are conducted by the Convener using a resource Guide where step by step instructions are given for the conduct of each activity.
Separate Resource books have been developed for Class IX to XII, colleges and communities. A calendar of activities in a year has also been indicated. A total of 6-8 activities, with specific learning outcome, running into approximately 4 hours in all, have been identified for each category.
The Commission’s endeavor is to make the ELC project sustainable and to achieve its vision of establishing ELCs in all secondary and senior secondary schools, colleges and universities, polling stations, government and non-government organisations and corporates. Electoral Literacy Clubs are envisioned as the biggest electoral literacy movement in the world through which we can fulfill the aim of ‘No Voter Left Behind’.