School elections in Angola lead students to active citizenship 🙋🏾 🙋🏾♂️Published: Jul 29, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
In 1975, the People's Republic of Angola was declared independent. However, post-independence, Angola became a one-party state, where democracy withered. The first legislative parliamentary, and presidential elections that were openly democratic were held in 1992, yet it would be another sixteen years until the next public elections were held in 2008.
These were the most recent elections in the history of the Angolan state. As there have only been four elections in the history of the country, the knowledge of the electoral process is weak in Angola across all ages, as many adults have voted in the past without having early knowledge of the electoral process, and the majority of school-age Angolans were unborn or very young children the last time the country went to the polls. Given this situation, it is vital that.
Together with the organisation Mosaico—the project's initiator—we decided to create a system of student elections, where students could learn how the entire municipal election process works.
Thirteen schools from five different municipalities were selected to host the student elections, replicating Angola's existing municipal elections system. However, the date of municipal elections was postponed, and priority was given to presidential and parliamentary elections, so the Let's Vote project had to adapt. Practical exercises and election campaign simulations were prepared for the students.
Thanks to financing from the European Union and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Angola, each school was able to award 550,000 AON (approximately 1250 euros) to the winners of the election. The students themselves democratically chose the winners. Students chose their candidates based on submitted electoral programmes, which showed, amongst other things, how the candidates intended to spend the budget. Electoral programmes were published during the campaign, and then the winner was voted on using a system of democratic elections. A school committee made up of students was then charged with monitoring the work of the winners and overseeing the use of funds.
This project provided students with practical experiences of democratic elections and allowed them to observe the entire electoral process. At the same time, it deepened knowledge about an individual's voting rights and the whole electoral process in order, thus supporting this younger generation. The project also raised the awareness of the need for a civically active society and drew attention to the importance of democratic elections and conscious voting.