In Their Words: A Practical Guide for Engaging Young People in Civic Education


A study exploring the best nonformal strategies for civic education for young people could not have come at a better time. Democracies, especially in low- and middle-income countries, have witnessed increasing apathy among young people, especially at the grassroots level. While this may be attributable to low literacy, incorrect notions of democracy, or indifference to governance, it does not bode well for democracies around the world. Sixteen percent (1.2 billion) of the world’s population is between ages 15 and 24.2 Yet the Inter-Parliamentary Union reported in 2021 that the percentage of members of Parliament aged 30 or under reached barely 2.6 percent globally.3 Furthermore, the Commonwealth’s 2020 Global Youth Development Index reported a decline in youth political participation, noting a “deterioration” in 102 of the 181 countries measured.4

Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) is pleased to have partnered with IFES to better understand the opportunities that civic education can provide to address these challenges. After a mixed method research process to learn about the impact of nonformal civic education practices on youth engagement, the unwavering relationship between KDI and IFES produced this guide. Tips in the guide, informed by a global survey and FGDs, reflect the thoughts and experiences of young people as they pertain to their civic and political engagement. The guide supports current and future youth programming and young leaders, practitioners, and donors to ground approaches in young people’s input and lived experience.

KDI is an independent, nonprofit nongovernmental organization that inspires citizen-led democratic development anchored in the principle of participation, data-driven advocacy, strong democratic institutions, and public policies. We do this by building informed and active citizens who create a more supportive environment for citizen-led development. To build an active and informed citizenry, KDI implements a series of innovative civic education programs, one of which is the Kimpact Democracy School (KDS). KDS started in 2020 with the goal of supporting young people as democratic actors. More about the KDS initiative can be found in this guide, among others, which are reflective of the youth-driven approach that KDI takes in its programming.

We appreciate the hundreds of survey respondents across the world as valuable contributors. Special appreciation to the IFES team for this great partnership, especially Ashley Law, Sarah Timreck, Cassandra Emmons, and their colleagues for their resourceful expertise. I commend Joshua Olu’Seun Esan and Oluwafemi John Adebayo for dedicating long hours to ensure that we got results. We believe this guide is born from a wealth of experiences coupled with input from hundreds of young people across the globe. We hope to see youth, government institutions, media, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders use this guide in designing youth-focused civic education interventions.

Bukola Idowu
Executive Director, Kimpact Development Initiative



United Nations, 2022.


Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2021.


Commonwealth Secretariat, 2021