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Preparing Youth for Citizenship and Democracy: Young Bahrainis' Civic and Political Knowledge and Understanding

By Fatima Hasan Eid

Abstract

Preparation of young people for effective citizenship has been a major concern in Bahrain since the transition towards democracy in 2001, and the movement towards reform in most aspects of life. To expedite the process of development and reform, education, training and youth issues are receiving growing attention in Bahrain. On a path of educational reform, Bahrain seeks to improve the quality of life for Bahraini citizens and increase their chances for prosperity, and, thus, citizenship education has been identified as a key initiative, which involves a clear commitment to help students acquire the skills, values, and knowledge necessary to enable them to become active citizens.\ud The present study examines whether young people graduating from secondary school in Bahrain are equipped with the civic and political knowledge and understanding necessary to participate effectively as citizens in a democracy. This is done by looking at three domains: citizenship, community and identity; rights, responsibilities and law; and democracy, political literacy and government. These categories comprise the conceptual framework of this study, support the development of the research hypotheses, and serve as guidelines for the drafting of the research instruments; a questionnaire and a semi-structured interview schedule. In this mixed methods approach, a questionnaire was administered to 460 final year secondary school students. This was followed by in-depth interviews with a stratified sample of 22 young people who had participated in the questionnaire survey.\ud The research provides valuable insights into the civic and political knowledge and understanding of Bahraini secondary school students and sheds light on the problems encountered by these young people as they engage in the process of learning about citizenship and democracy. The findings reveals a noticeable understanding of the conceptions of citizenship and shows that young citizens have sufficient understanding of their rights and responsibilities; some knowledge of democracy, but little understanding of politics and government. Furthermore, they are aware of issues affecting their community, but they are less involved in community associations or activities.\ud The study recommends a national strategy to improve the teaching of citizenship education in Bahrain, in formal and informal contexts. This needs to match and respond to the views, perceptions, and experiences of young people in order to encourage and enable them to become useful, active and responsible members of Bahraini society

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9038

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