Democratic governance initiatives: civic education and media (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1004)



Links between democratic governance initiatives and poverty reduction: Please identify some examples of successful democratic governance interventions with a specific focus on supporting civic education and free and independent media, and how do these interventions impact on poverty reduction? Please do a short literature review with an emphasis on lessons learnt. Please also identify and summarise evaluations of implemented development programs.


This rapid review synthesises the findings of successful democratic governance interventions supporting civic education and a free and independent media. The choice of cases to include has been limited as not many evaluations of civic education and media initiatives are publicly available. Moreover it has been challenging to find evaluations that explore the link between these initiatives and poverty reduction.

Lessons learnt from successful civic education initiatives include ensuring programmes have realistic objectives with careful targeting to maximise the impact of often scarce resources; invest in getting the training of promoters/trainers right; make the messages and their delivery; use different contexts outside of schools (e.g. post-peace-agreement transitions, constitutional reforms and new elections); move away from one-off activities; exploit post-activity discussions among the wider community; and bolster with intensive media campaigns. Studies highlight the value of impact evaluations using rigorous evaluation methodologies for understanding what has and has not worked with civic education initiatives.

Lessons learnt from successful initiatives to support free and independent media also include setting realistic objectives, time horizons and expected short-term results. Other lessons are ensuring impartiality in politically sensitive contexts; moderating political discussion programmes to avoid escalating tensions; involving local stakeholders in the design and ongoing development of initiatives; providing core multi-year predictable support; understanding local communities’ perceptions of their own information needs; investing in committed skilled staff and leadership; and developing early baselines where possible and conducting ongoing audience research. The studies emphasise that external factors are important for the success of initiatives. These include the political and legal framework, the support from the international community, and the level of poverty and education, infrastructure and general standards of journalism.


Carter, B. Democratic governance initiatives: civic education and media (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1004). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 15 pp.

Democratic governance initiatives: civic education and media (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1004)

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