Voter awareness and education: The base of sustainable democracy

Published : Tuesday, 22 August, 2023 at 12:00 AM
As Bangladesh maintains its democratic identity, attention has shifted to the crucial role that citizen awareness and education play in guaranteeing the election of competent and moral leaders. We must highlight the role education plays in sustaining democracy by choosing the proper leaders since we recognize the value of knowledgeable citizens in the democratic process. We are concentrating on the election process and other pertinent concerns as the 12th National Parliamentary Election draws near. However, a deluded set of citizens cannot use their vote to uphold democratic principles. Therefore, it is crucial that each voter cast their ballot with awareness of its importance and understanding of right from wrong.

We have seen before that Bangladeshi voters, like those in many other least developed or underdeveloped nations, do not properly grasp the importance of their ballots. They are largely absentee voters, as was seen in the most recent local government elections. A major faction frequently exchanges votes for favors from the politicians. A few voters frequently cast ballots while being intimidated by the candidates. However, in a democracy, the populace should be aware of the significance of their votes in choosing the candidate who will lead the nation to prosperity and growth.

The active participation of its population is essential for democracy, which is sometimes regarded as the pinnacle of political systems. However, merely exercising one’s right to vote does not guarantee the survival and success of a democratic society. Voter awareness and education are essential for assisting voters in selecting leaders who maintain democratic principles.

Voter education and awareness cover a variety of initiatives aimed at enlightening voters about their rights, obligations, and the political system. Voter awareness is being aware of the significance of voting and its influence on governance. By establishing a sense of civic duty and responsibility and reminding people that their voice matters in determining the destiny of their country, it empowers citizens. On the other hand, voter education involves informing voters about political parties, candidates, and their platforms. This gives voters the resources they need to critically evaluate the choices that are made available to them, empowering them to make well-informed decisions that are in line with their values and goals.

Democracy is not a passive system of government. In order to be successful, it needs active citizen participation. Voting is a fundamental right and a cornerstone of democracy since it allows people to express their views and hold those in authority responsible. Voters must be aware of the consequences of their decisions in order for this process to succeed. An informed electorate is better able to assess the credentials, moral character, and policy positions of candidates. This not only results in the election of politicians who share the interests of the people, but it also acts as a check against the growth of extremists or propagandists who might threaten democratic institutions.

Understanding the subtleties of political parties, candidates, and ideology is essential in a country with a political landscape as diverse as Bangladesh. People who have received an education are more likely to understand the wide-ranging effects of their engagement in the democratic process. Here, it is also noteworthy that, though education enables us to take better decisions, we often see wrongdoings from the educated groups of country, which is very unfortunate.

A vital skill for citizens managing the complexity of democratic processes is critical thinking. By encouraging people to challenge presumptions, assess the reliability of the facts, and take into account multiple points of view, awareness and education cultivate this capacity. Critical thinking serves as a defense against deception in a time where false information and emotive discourse can impact public opinion. A well-informed population is more likely to be able to spot logical fallacies, evaluate policy suggestions objectively, and base decisions on reasoning rather than feelings.

Divide and misleading data can undermine democracy’s roots in the digital era. Citizens who have received an education are better able to critically assess information sources, separate fact from fiction, and fend off the influence of false information. An informed electorate makes better decisions during elections because they are less likely to be duped by propaganda networks and conspiracy theories. Most importantly, education creates a climate where people may make decisions that are based on facts and reality by combating disinformation.

Democracy’s foundational principle of accountability requires elected leaders to continue to answer to their constituents. Citizens’ capacity to hold leaders responsible for their deeds and decisions is improved through awareness. An informed individual is more likely to examine policy results, participate in fruitful debate, and call for transparency in government. As a result, there is pressure on government officials to keep their word and decide in the best interests of the country.

Although there is no denying the importance of education in preserving democracy, Bangladesh confronts difficulties in ensuring that everyone has access to high-quality education. Infrastructure and resource gaps in education continue to be major obstacles, especially in rural and underserved areas. In order to eliminate these inequalities, a multi-pronged strategy incorporating government initiatives, partnerships with civil society organizations, and international assistance is required.Furthermore, it is essential to advance gender equality in education if we want a democratic system that is balanced.

From the perspective of Bangladesh, it is a lengthy work to ensure proper education of the populace. If the citizens are not educated enough, then they cannot judge the political situation of the country and cannot identify the right leaders. As we cannot ensure literacy of the mass at quickest, we should try to create awareness among the population of our country to make them value their votes. With proper awareness, they will understand the theme of democracy and will rightly participate in electing the right representatives, which is very important to ensure the continuous development of the nation as well as to establish sustainable democracy.

Before casting their votes, the citizens need to have adequate information about the candidates in all elections, be it national or local government elections. The voters must trace out if a candidate is patriot and honest. They should also look for some other traits like; the political ideology, social commitment and involvement with the community etc. Not only the candidates but also the voters need to hold nationalistic ideology. They need to consider the national interest first irrespective to their allegiance to some party or candidate. Otherwise, despite education, the voters may vote for some anti-national forces.

During our liberation war, most of the citizens our country were united on a single cause – our freedom. But now, as different parties are working with different agenda, such unity may not be achieved. Nevertheless, the citizens as well as all candidates or political parties must uphold the concept of national interest as the topmost priority for the sake of the welfare of all.

The political parties as well as different public and private organizations including the NGOs and media should step up to create political awareness among the mass. These organizations can work with a small area each and can share the insights on traits of good leaders, importance of democracy and vitality of the votes of the citizens. Today, the youth has grown negative taste for politics and many of them do not cast their votes. Similar is the situation with the women. Hence, we can especially focus on the youth as well as the women to bring them to the polling centers and to enable them to utilize their voting rights properly for the welfare of the nation.

If the citizens are not aware of their responsibility to choose the right leadership for the country, then there is no point of voting blindly. This will even create risks of bringing anti-sovereignty powers in the government and democracy will be shattered. Moreover, the development of the country also cannot be sustained with citizens, who have no accountability as well as lack political awareness. Democracy is a wonderful concept when the citizens are aware about their rights and responsibility. Hence, we hope that, we will be able to ensure political awareness among our citizens so that, they can utilize their voting rights for the welfare of self as well as the nation as a whole.

The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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