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Tonga Centre for Citizenship Education

In June 2014 officials of Tonga’s local government division established the email address, citizenshipeducationtonga@min.govt.to. This was an historic step forward in the evolution of the Tonga Centre for Citizenship Education (TCCE).

It was in the aftermath of riots that bunt the heart of Nuku’akofa, and around the 2007 Reconciliation and Civic education conference that the Tongan PM’s Civic education adviser asked whether Tonga could have a CCE.

In 2010, Tongan women who had been in Tonga’s Parliament and others in small ngos advocated for the authorities to do better in informing voters about their rights and obligations under the reformed political system.

In 2013 the Speaker and several cabinet ministers were amongst those who came together to steer citizenship for Tonga, and pointed to resource models they wanted applied to Tonga’s situation – particularly to local government and to education. There was also interest in what the local media and MPs could do.

New Zealanders, palangi and Tongan, who had been encouraged to develop a NZ CCE by the Commonwealth Foundation since 2002 shared some ideas at and since the Speakers forum on objectives and structure.

Tongan conversations identified some structural issues those interested or may become interested in a Tongan CCE may consider.

“Membership may be broadly based so that citizenship education may be developed with a whole of government rather that a silo approach.

‘Leaders should be sought from Parliamentary, ministerial, noble, royal, media, educational, legal and ngo circles.

“The structure should accommodate people with divergent backgrounds.

‘Management of the TCCE’s plans and activities should be efficient and properly resourced.

Tonga should work out the way its own institution may work for local goals, but should have internationally acceptable patterns if it wants international connections.

When the founders of the NZ CCE were learning from the experience of the Commonwealth Foundation and New Zealand’s own political culture, four purposes came to the fore.

New Zealand’s CCE is interested in the development of

“Policy, “Educational resources, “Professionalism and “Institutions.

By Anthony Haas, foundation director of the New Zealand Centre for Citizenship Education, a charitable trust. Find out more at www.citizenshipeducation.net, www.decisionmaker.co.nz and from ahaas@decisionmaker.co.nz. CCE acknowledges the support of the Commonwealth Foundation.