The Students community in Uganda represents a significant cohort of the total population that should be at the centre of national development and a new generation of active participants in political and civic engagement. Their immense numbers, energy, potential, dynamism and technical know-how make them a reliable active constituency. However, for example the student community is not well informed on the electoral process. The existing voter education initiatives and knowledge are not accessible and student-friendly.
There is little accessible literature, promotional materials like banners, leaflets, manuals and all the related IEC materials on voter education. Further, there has never been a structural entry point to institutions of higher learning for such campaigns. Also, there lacks a coordinated approach or strategy of electoral process activities amongst stakeholders, mainly between the students on one hand and the other public, private and CSO players on the other hand to address the phenomenon.

SGD Uganda tries to ensure that the young people, principally the student community have the opportunity to participate and have a voice in how they will be governed. SGD Uganda addresses this, through these initiatives:

Student Mock Parliaments

As a way of encouraging youth engagement on policy issues, SGD-Uganda facilitates the establishment of mock youth parliaments. The organization helps to create spaces where young people can discuss public policy matters, especially those that impact the youth, and brainstorm opportunities to influence political processes in a manner that catalyzes the youth voice.

Young people are introduced to the mock parliament in an interactive and informal way, because the likeness that young people who are engaged in civic life with greater political involvement is important in the essence that it cultivates a habit and culture of civic participation. A demand-oriented explanation of political disengagement highlights the unrealistic expectations that many citizens hold with regards to decision-makers who do not have the capacity to deliver all young people’s aspirations. The mock parliaments offer young people an opportunity to have the national youth manifesto as a talking document through which young people will initiate into discussion and make voice on what political actors should focus on at a timely event.

Student Voter Education Program

SGD Uganda organizes student voter education seminars in high schools. The discussions sensitize attendees on what comprises an accountable, transparent, and participatory electoral process and encourage participants to become involved in upcoming elections. The organization also distributes “Right to Vote” toolkits that provide valuable information on voter registration, ID, the electoral calendar and opportunities for civic engagement. In conjunction with this, SGD Uganda organizes student leadership and human rights training.

Student Advocacy Forums

SGD- Uganda supports the formation of advocacy forums that help to empower citizens to hold their leaders accountable for the issues on which they campaigned. The forums also encourage citizens to continue participating in the political process after the elections.

Citizens’ Accountability Training

SGD Uganda organizes accountability trainings to raise awareness of the citizens, especially young people of student status and community members about their roles and responsibilities in ensuring accountability. The trainings provide them with knowledge and skills for tracking the quality of public services and monitoring budget expenditure at the community level.

Citizens’ Accountability Platforms

SGD Uganda organizes Accountability Platforms dubbed as “Citizen’s Voices and Action Platforms”. The platforms bring local leaders, civil society organizations, and young people to engage around public policy. These meetings give young people an opportunity to inquire about the progress made by elected officials and in political party manifestos, as well as addressing the concerns put forth in the National Youth Manifestos. These initiatives also seek to unpack and contextualize how young people can be involved in process that empowers them, reach them and consult them on different youth-sensitive governance approaches.

Student Leaders Exchange Program

SGD Uganda High School Student Leaders Exchange Program is to foster mutual understanding, respect and civic engagement among young leaders and teachers in high schools from different regions all over the country. This program enhances firsthand knowledge and examines significant issues such as environment and climatic change, entrepreneurship, sports and creative art, leadership development, character building, effective teamwork and performance management. It aims at improving, valuing and strengthening leadership knowledge and skills development amongst the students’ community. During the exchange program, students directly engage in a number of activities that are youth friendly and at the same time, empowering them with skills of leadership, entrepreneurship, sports and creative art, entertainment, meaningful participation, issue based debates, community service activities, effective communication, public speaking and exhibitions among others.

In the previous elections, the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) played an important role in helping more young people and students participate and understand the meaning of elections through the “Honor your Vote Campaign”, however despite this engagement, access of information and participation was limited through to this category of young people. In the year 2021, there existed barriers to participation, such as not knowing registration rules and deadlines, lacking acceptable voting identification cards, lack of knowledge of actual demarcated polling stations and movable polling station for student's communities in cases of mobility and youth knowledge of voting procedure, commercialization of political spaces, the young people lacking information about political candidates as this incapacitates their fair participation in the electoral process.