Government 2, May/June 2015

Question 4

(a)  Define public opinion.

(b)  Highlight three ways by which Public Opinion can be formed.

(c)  In what three ways can Public Opinion be encouraged in your country.


This was a popular question and the candidates that answered the question did very well. They understood the demands of the question and scored good marks. However, some of the candidates scored low marks in part (b) and (c) by mixing the answers. The candidates wrote some of the following points as answers to the question:

(a)        Public Opinion can be described as the aggregate views of the people at a given time and on a particular issue/matter.           

(b)        Ways by which public opinion can be formed are as follows:

  1. Mass Media: Public opinion can be formed through information provided by the media.
  2. The organizations that people belong to e.g. Religious/Social.
  3. Trade Unions:  The trade unions that people belong to serve as the source of information which eventually help them in building public opinion. 
  4. Political parties:  Parties serve as an aggregating factor for people’s 


  1. Pressure/ Interest groups give information to their members and this helps them to form opinion.
  2. Public lectures/Seminars/Symposia/Conferences enable people to form opinion.
  3. Influential people in the society also help in forming opinion.
  4. Educational Institutions help in the formation of public opinion.
  5. Peer groups assist in forming opinion.
  6. Families also help to form public opinion.

(c) Ways of encouraging Public Opinion.

(i)         Guaranteeing press freedom:  This will enable the policies and actions
of the government to be made known to members of the public in their
true perspectives.
(ii)        Raising Literacy level:  If citizens can read and write, they will be in a
better position to view and assess government policies.
(iii)       Establishment of Information Bureau:  This will enable citizens to have access to information that will enable them form opinion.
(iv)       Guaranteeing freedom of speech and association:  Members of the public should be allowed to air their views on government policies and actions/inactions.
(v)        Encouragement of functional civil society organizations.
(vi)       Encouragement of democratic government.