REFORM Implements a Public Debate on the Role of Student Movements in Raising Students' Political Awareness

With the participation of a number of young activists, The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development - REFORM conducted a dialogue session to raise the awareness of university students on the importance of enhancing their political participation. The session aimed to shed light on the factors that influence the political participation of youth and to collectively develop efficient tools to enhance their political awareness, thus enabling them to lead the democratic transformation processes.

At the beginning of the session, the participants discussed the current level of political participation of youth movements as well as hindering forces in this regard, such as those that prevent the formation of unions within university campuses. The youth highlighted that the absence of these unions confines political action and engagement in the democratic processes to only certain privileged groups, further polarizing the various social components.

One of the participants, Hussam Abu Al-Nasr, reflected on his work experience with the General Union of Palestinian Students and asserted the need to promote its work, as it focuses on the students' interests and needs, away from political influence. It also works to develop programs and frameworks that meet the interests of political student movements in order to enhance the access of students to services.

Participants analyzed the reasons behind the lack of political participation of youth such as the limited awareness of students on the importance of political participation and student unions, the lack of political and ideological programs within students’ movements as well as other economic and societal factors that hinder youth participation and drives them to consider having part-time jobs to improve their living conditions.

At the end of the session, participants came out with a number of recommendations such as asserting the importance of student awareness on student unions in addressing the needs of students away from partisan interests, as well as the crucial role of universities in supporting student councils by establishing bigger spaces for union activities over the course of the year and not only when conducting elections. Participants also called for promoting the culture of political participation as one of the important factors for enhancing the university students’ participation in political and public life upon their graduation, in addition to holding public meeting and scientific conventions to discuss the reasons for the lack of the political participation of youth.

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.