2,500 schools and colleges in Maharashtra set up Electoral Literacy Clubs in 3 months
To tap future voters and raise awareness among youngsters about the electoral system, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has been promoting Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) in schools and colleges since January this year. Three months later, around 2,500 institutions across Maharashtra have set up clubs.
The drive, launched on January 25, has seen better response in the state’s rural areas than in cities.
Most voters don’t even understand the difference between Assembly and Council polls, or the ECI and the State Election Commission,and the drive aims to bring awareness among students and educate them about these electoral entities. The ECI is also hoping that the drive will encourage new voters to enrol in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“We have only 12 lakh youngsters between 18-19 years registered against a population of about 41 lakh. By setting up ELCs in school and colleges, we want the number of new voters to rise,” said a senior officer from the ECI’s state wing, who did not wish to be named. “ELCs in schools and colleges will work as extra-curricular bodies such as the National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme. The clubs will be headed by a teacher who is assigned by the school management and will have a managing body of students.”
The ECI has prepared literature and material to be distributed among students during their awareness sessions in schools and colleges. “Teachers who head the club will be trained by our election officers at district levels. We are looking at school students as future voters, and college students as first-time voters. They are potential voters who can play a role in bringing awareness among other voters at their homes and society. We hope it will help improve the voting percentage,” the officer said.
The programme was launched in tribal-dominated Nandurbar district on January 25, and the response has been good, ECI officials said. Education officers from the school education department have been directed to push school and college managements to set up these clubs.
The ECI has also been organising voter enrolment programmes in junior and senior colleges by appointing teachers as campus ambassadors.
Shirish Mohod, deputy chief electoral officer, said, “The schools and candidates are expected to hold workshops and training sessions. It is true that awareness in urban areas is less compared to rural areas, as priorities of the urban youth are different. We are hopeful that the movement will gain momentum.”