As part of its continuous efforts to enhancing the role of youth in leading the process of democratic transformation, REFORM discusses the role of student movements in raising students’ political awareness

With the participation of number of active students in the Palestinian universities, the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development - REFORM conducted several dialogue sessions in Nablus and Hebron, aiming to discuss the role of student movements in raising students' political awareness, identify the prospects of political participation of youth and the reasons behind the decline of students' role in the democratic process within universities; and how it affects their engagement in community institutions and active political parties.

A number of researchers participated in these sessions, as well as representatives of Student Union Councils at An-Najah National University, Hebron University, Polytechnic University, Andaleeb College and Al-Quds Open University branches in Hebron and Nablus.

At the beginning of the session, the attendees discussed the determinants of the political participation of youth, represented by certain social fault lines such as gender, financial status, political affiliation, and the educational level, as youth political participation automatically enhances when the educational levels increase and poverty rates decrease.

The attendees also tackled the role of media, through covering the democratic movement, in raising the awareness of youth, and enhancing their participation in political life. Moreover, the attendance also discussed how engaging youth within political life develops their personal capacities, promotes their active citizenship and enhances their access to public services and decision-making processes.

Regarding the obstacles that student movements face in universities, the participants pointed out that the most prominent ones are the disruption of the democratic process at the community level, the limited participation of students, as they only engage in activities within the university campus, the financial hardships that force students to work to secure their educational path, and the lack of active student movements that act as a union that disregards all political affiliations.

At the end of the sessions, the participants recommended to re-activate the democratic movement regularly within the legislative bodies, Unions, political parties and governmental bodies. Participants also called for establishing a more steady democratic process within the universities, activating influential stakeholders as well as raising the awareness of university students on the importance of political participation.

This activity is part of The “Rooftop Debate – Drivers of Political Change” project aims to create a network of powerful social and political young leaders and equip them with supporting tools that enable them to create social change by directing them to find solutions to their problems and concerns, which promotes social cohesion, ensures pluralism and strengthens civil peace within society. The project also seeks to provide safe and interactive platforms that connect young activists with representatives of Government bodies and civil society organizations, in order to capacitate youth to voice out their concerns and engage in shaping public policies that are more responsive to their social and political needs.

This project is implemented in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Foundation.