The National Planning Commission (NPC) has been at the forefront of calling for active citizenship, which has found resonance with a wide range of actors and stakeholders. However, given the fractured nature of communities and weak non-partisan leadership at community level, there is a need to strengthen relevant competencies and capacities to enable the notion of active citizenship to become a reality. It is in this light that the idea of a citizenship academy as mooted in the 2011 National Development Plan is intriguing and potentially appealing.
This discussion document will explore the idea of a citizenship academy further and highlight a number of critical issues that warrant further scrutiny and in-depth discussion. Isandla Institute's starting point is that the consolidation of political participation and representation presupposes an active, engaged public that is able to claim rights, negotiate priorities and accept negotiated outcomes. South Africa is far from achieving this. Perhaps the citizenship academy is a suitable vehicle to help us achieve this.