Civic Engagement

World Learning helps civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world advocate for effective democratic processes, more efficiently deliver services, and foster policies that support basic human rights.

Our civil society and institutional strengthening projects connect local communities with public and private sector institutions to promote citizen engagement for good governance. Our projects help citizens address issues such as human rights abuses, corruption, poor service delivery, poverty, social inequality, and weak governance. World Learning positions activists and CSOs to address these issues by providing them with civic and human rights education, policy advocacy skills, leadership development, networking opportunities, organizational needs assessments, small-grant support, training, and technical assistance.

We work with all forms of CSOs—formal and informal groups, single issue and multi-issue groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working at national or regional levels and local community based organizations (CBOs). Some aim to influence the state while others are solely focused on service delivery and/or economic development.

With these differences in mind, our engagement with civil society is premised on the critical need to ensure that the voices of underrepresented groups are not lost. These underrepresented actors are hampered by many factors, including a lack of appropriate forums to promote dialogue, weak organizational capacity, language barriers, inadequate funding, and high transaction costs, among others.

Our civic and human rights education emphasizes citizen rights and responsibilities. For example in Myanmar, our Institute for Civic Engagement (iPACE), funded by the U.S. Embassy Rangoon, has trained more than 1,500 activists and political party members on skills needed for the country’s democratic transition.  We have offered more than 20 different courses to date on topics including Political Transitions, Political Engagement, Transparency, Peace Advocacy, Federalism, Conflict Transformation, Strategic Planning, Organizational Development, Communications, and more. In the run up to Myanmar’s historic 2015 elections, iPACE prepared nearly 150 activists as voter educators and voter education trainers.  With the knowledge and skills iPACE provided, these activists mobilized thousands of citizens to register to vote and to cast their ballots on Election Day.

We have integrated civic and human rights education into several projects and initiatives, and have taught students about their role in democratic society, organized workshops focused on the social and political rights of women, trained CSO leaders to integrate gender and social inclusion throughout project cycles, and sponsored neighborhood problem-solving initiatives.

Citizen participation is the process of organizing and motivating people to take action for a common purpose. It strengthens advocacy efforts by combining political coalition-building with community action. It encourages social mobilization, empowering people to organize and take action to improve their communities.

World Learning works with social organizations involving youth, women, local councilors, village leaders, religious leaders, and others. By working with inclusive networks that reflect the voices of underrepresented groups, we provide citizens with the skills and knowledge required in democratic communities and governance. In Northern Nigeria, for example, World Learning has worked with local civil society organizations to provide youth clubs in conflict affected areas with the skills to map local needs and design and implement community level service projects.

Advocacy seeks to build consensus on national, regional, or local priorities through transparent, accountable, and inclusive decision making.

Our goal is to increase the ability of civil society organizations and their constituents to stand up for change and influence policy. We value advocacy because it provides citizens the opportunity to channel their ideas and concerns into collective action toward commonly identified objectives.

Organizing and building alliances across various stakeholders is the most effective way to make a difference. We help nongovernmental organizations serve as a bridge between governments and community-based organizations. In Angola, for example, World Learning collaborated with local CSOs to inform the government’s National Plan for the Prevention and Mitigation of Violence Against Children. In Myanmar, World Learning partnered with the U.S. Council on International Disabilities to help the new Myanmar Council for People with Disabilities to successfully advocate for a new law on the rights of people with disabilities.

Civil society plays an important role in fostering good governance and democracy and has become the main channel for promoting durable peace, justice, accountability, and sustainable development.

Civil society organizations and their networks bring citizens together and connect them to the state, thereby strengthening state-society relations. Our work creating linkages between governments and civil society enhances policy makers’ understanding of their responsibilities as well as the role civil society can play in bringing about social change.

Combating social problems such as human trafficking, corruption, and unfair labor conditions requires the cooperation of public officials at all levels. People around the world are increasingly joining together—often at high personal risk—to demand a greater voice in the decisions that affect their lives. We are helping local actors acquire the skills and knowledge to better manage issues affecting their communities.

Our projects help ministries, parliaments, and government agencies to serve their constituents, promote participatory democracy, and adhere to human rights standards. Program strategies range from long-term interventions aimed at reforming organizations to short-term assistance and training to help implement specific policies.

For example, through our USAID funded Eye Kutoloka project, World Learning’s technical assistance to an Angolan NGO allowed the organization to monitor municipal level health budgets and successfully advocate for greater transparency in local budgeting. In Macedonia, we helped the State Education Inspectorate develop the systems and skills it needed to effectively monitor the quality of services that schools delivered, and report its findings to the Ministry of Education.

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