North African Youth Engage in Policy Dialogue

Jul 23, 2014 / Civitas International Programs, Project Citizen
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Youth and civil society leaders from Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya met in Hammamet, Tunisia, on June 5–7, 2014 to engage in public policy dialogue.

Youth and civil society leaders engaged in public policy dialogue in Hammamet, Tunisia, on June 5–7, 2014.

Youth and civil society leaders engaged in public policy dialogue in Hammamet, Tunisia, on June 5–7, 2014.

The event culminated two years of youth engagement in public policy, which included use of the Center for Civic Education’s Project Citizen civic education curricular program to research and develop policy-based solutions to community issues. The Moroccan Center for Civic Education and the Social Development and Empowerment Center, the Center’s Civitas International Programs partners in Morocco and Tunisia, organized the event as part of the Engaging Civil Society and Youth in Public Policy Dialogue program supported by the United Nations Democracy Fund.

Participating youth included young adults, particularly unemployed college graduates. At the event, youth presented and displayed public policy projects. Each project featured policy recommendations to address critical local issues identified by participating young people. Issues addressed through public policy included unemployment, school dropouts, violence, agricultural and educational issues, and other community problems. Participants’ policy proposals included economic analysis and addressed potential funding mechanisms to implement the policies.

The event also provided young people with the opportunity to discuss with civil-society leaders opportunities and techniques for working with government to promote and adopt their proposed policy improvements.

Engaging Civil Society and Youth in Public Policy Dialogue is a two-year effort led by the Moroccan Center for Civic Education in partnership with the Social Development and Empowerment Center (Tunisia) and other civil society partners. The program aims to build public policy analysis and advocacy capacity among youth and civil-society organizations in Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya.

The Project Citizen program, developed by the Center, provides young people—from elementary school students to young adults—with the knowledge and skills to monitor and influence public policy. Project Citizen engages young people in a series of structured, cooperative learning activities guided by teachers and adult volunteers. Working in teams, youth learn to interact with their government and community leaders through a five-step process that entails (1) identifying a public policy problem in their community, (2) gathering and evaluating information about the problem, (3) examining and evaluating alternative solutions, (4) selecting and developing a public policy proposal to address the problem, and (5) developing an action plan to bring their proposed solution to authorities with the power to implement it. Used in more than seventy countries, Project Citizen is the Center’s most widely adapted and implemented civic education program. It has been recognized as a model program that equips young people with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for competent and responsible participation in the political life of their communities.

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