The Electoral Education and Information Centre (EEIC) provides an informative, interactive and interesting learning experience on civic and voter education, and easily appeals to the youth. “I thought that the EEIC would be a boring place. However, I am pleasantly surprised by how much fun it actually is,” Sheema Chapagain, a tenth grader at Vidya Sanskar School shares. She also adds that she will now register for a voter identity card when she turns sixteen.
The EEIC was established in 2011, within the Election Commission’s (ECN’s) premises, to provide civic and voter education to the people in an accessible manner. “The EEIC draws approximately 100 visitors per day,” Pramila Koirala, Senior Assistant at the Election Commission and an Educator at the EEIC informs. A total of 31,294 visitors have visited the EEIC up until mid-August 2019.
The centre is a vibrant venue that provides information on electoral procedures, the constitution, democracy, political parties and political processes. The visitors benefit from an interactive quiz centre, watch documentaries on the ECN’s role in elections, listen to information about elections from across the world, and also engage in mock-polling. The centre is equipped with hi-tech electronic apparatus to facilitate learning in a dynamic environment.
Sushma Rai, head of the Social Studies Department at the Vidya Sadan School says that the EEIC brings the social studies textbooks to life and really adds value to the student’s knowledge. Tanka Mishra, Math teacher at the same school informs, “The curriculum available at the EEIC is comprehensive, updated and easy to grasp. The students therefore enjoy learning in this environment.”
Most visitors are from schools and academia, but sometimes also from the security forces or political parties. Although the centre attracts many people, Mamata Shrestha, educator at the EEIC is aware that there are very many voters that the EEIC is yet to reach. She says, “We have EEICs in three places in the country – Kathmandu, Dhangadi and Pokhara. These centres are also equipped with three sets of mobile EEICs to extend coverage to remote areas.” The ECN plans to have an EEIC in each of the seven provinces of Nepal to ensure that voter and civic education is accessible to all the citizens. The goal is to ensure that no vote is invalid.
The Kathmandu EEIC was established by the Electoral Support Project with support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and UNDP, and currently sustained by the ECN. It is operated free of cost and open to all those who want to learn about the electoral processes of Nepal.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission Nepal (ECN) to conduct credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. The ESP is currently funded by the EU.