Voting in an election

How to encourage adults to be civically enagaged

By living in a democratic country, we can participate in the political decisions that affect us – but only if we have the knowledge and confidence to do so. Civic literacy, or the ability to remain informed, understand governmental processes, and know our rights and responsibilities, allows us to make a change in our community.

When you have strong civic literacy skills, you know how to make your voice heard by all levels of government—before, during and after an election. More civically literate citizens are more likely to vote, be able to identify the political issues that are most important to them, and be aware of how to make positive political change happen.

Here are three tips on how to encourage adults to be civically engaged.

1. Provide Civic Education. To be civically literate, we need to know how the government works and the effects of civic decisions. This involves staying up-to-date on political issues, knowing what districts we live in, and identifying who our elected officials are and their opinions on political matters.

Participating in civic voting is also key to being civically engaged. Voting provides the opportunity to support an individual, law, or opinion and play a role in election results. Knowing how to vote helps us exercise our rights and obligations and create an impact.

Educate your learners on governmental processes during sessions at your literacy organization. Consider bringing in local government officials to state their political platforms and answer learners’ questions.

2. Hold Program Discussions and Debates. Research shows that individuals who talk about politics and current events with their peers are more likely to be civically engaged.

Have learners lead the debates themselves while you act as a facilitator. Each week, elect someone different to generate the topic idea and begin the discussion. Encourage learners to offer evidence and facts to support their views on local topics.

Ensure your classroom is an environment that provides security, reassurance and acceptance. Remind learners that everyone’s entitled to their own opinion on the matter. All responses should be respected and acknowledged; there are no wrong answers.

3. Encourage Volunteering. Becoming active volunteers in our communities helps us broaden our perceptions of the world, grow as individuals, and positively impact the places we live. Without volunteers, many communities would not be able to offer numerous events and services that help bridge various social, economic and political gaps.

There are countless organizations, charities and individuals who are in need of volunteer support. No matter what type of volunteering your adult learners may do, they’ll get the opportunity to connect with all kinds of people and hear new ideas – while also improving their communities.

Benefits of Civic Literacy in Canada

Building civic literacy at your non-profit helps create more engaged, informed and resilient adults. Those who are civically literate are more likely to vote, recognize political issues relevant to them, and make a difference in their communities.

Citizens with a higher level of civic literacy are also more likely to respect others’ opinions, which helps form a more open and accepting society.

Promote Civic Literacy in Adult Learners

Voting is one of the best ways to be an active citizen in our communities. Our free resource, A Guide to Voting, helps literacy practitioners educate adult learners in civic literacy and prepare them for the next election. To learn more about our civic voting resource and download a copy of A Guide to Voting, visit