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Arab Youth Movement Launch: Shaping the Future of Education with Youth Vision

On January 20, 26 young men and women from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia unified their voices and declared the emergence of an Arab Youth Movement that advocates for the right to education in the Arab region.

The Youth movement was launched after the completion of the Youth Educational Academy that was implemented as part of the Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA) efforts to involve youth in contributing to the achievement of SDG 4. The Youth Educational Academy was launched in Amman-Jordan, with the aim of empowering Arab youth and building their capabilities to enhance their involvement in educational movements to influence learning policies and strategies in the Arab region. The Academy was conducted during 16-21 January 2023, with the participation of 26 young men and women from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia. The academy, which was held within the framework  of the project "Engaging youth in Education for Social Transformation," funded by the Global Campaign for Education, also aimed at providing free spaces for youth to enable them to contribute to strengthening their role in anticipating the future of education within the structure of ACEA and its partners in influencing educational policies, proposing national and regional policies and strategies that ensure youth involvement in the educational movement. The Academy created a space for dialogue and the exchange of experiences and views on the five tracks of TES, discussing the themes of the Future of Education report and comparing them with the reality of education in the Arab world. The youth also discussed the reality of education in their countries and identified common and priority issues. They also engaged in training sessions to develop national initiatives to respond to their priorities. Finally, the youth worked on designing outlines for a code of conduct and strategy to organise their emerging movement.

The emergence of this youth movement became true after extensive efforts made by ACEA, to include youth perspectives in the structures and efforts of its educational movement in the Arab region, which started by the Youth Educational Academy that was held during August 2021. One of the most important outcomes of this academy was the need to ensure meaningful participation of youth at all levels of the ACEA. It was stressed that young people should not be included as neutral participants but should be a driving force involved in public action and structures as equal partners in the movement, in order to truly learn from their perspectives. In response, ACEA launched the project “Engaging youth in Education for Social Transformation” in June 2022 with the goal of engaging youth in national and regional policy dialogues concerned with the achievement of SDG4. The project focused on achieving three main objectives: institutionalisation of youth integration into the frameworks and structures of the Arab Campaign for Education and Arab educational coalitions; creating joint national and regional programs (ACEA, NECs and governments) to increase awareness of their role as well as their knowledge and capacities in SDG4, Civil Society principles, Human Rights, advocacy and SA tactics & mechanisms; and adopt governmental policies aimed at creating & enacting policy & regulatory frameworks concerned with increasing youth engagement and influence in public education policies.

The first activity of the project was establishing a Youth Consultation Committee that includes 9 members who met during the period from 10-11 September 2022 in the Jordanian capital, Amman. This committee was created in order to develop  the project’s theory of change from a youth perspective to ensure an enhanced culture of youth involvement in the structure of the Arab Campaign for Education for All-ACEA and educational coalitions. In addition, the role of the Committee is to anticipate the future of youth role within ACEA and its partners in influencing educational policies; to propose national and regional policies and strategies to ensure youth involvement in the educational movement.

The youth were aware of the societal and structural challenges that make their rights vulnerable to violation without any way to protect these rights. Their ambition was beyond the idea of being a figure in a campaign or activity, but rather to have a leading role in achieving SDG4 and make their voice heard. Thus, they decided to transfer the goal of the project from engagement of youth in the educational movement into creation of a youth movement that is ready to work closely with ACEA and Educational Coalitions.

The idea of creating a youth movement was raised as a dream by the youth Consultation Committee, but they insisted on making this dream come true. The Youth Committee held two webinars, the 1st one was conducted on October 18, on "Youth Declaration on Transforming Education"- Critical review of the " Youth Declaration on Transforming Education " from the perspective of Arab youth, under the slogan of (Arab Youth's Vision to Contribute to Achieving SDG4). More than 50 participants from the region and the globe joint the webinar, which created a strong launch of the committee's work and show youth efforts. The other webinar was conducted on Nov 15, on " Education and environmental citizenship, the role of youth in addressing climate change. More than 70 participants from the region joint the webinar that was held in conjunction with COP 27 summit Sharm El-Sheikh and aimed at raising youth awareness of the importance of taking action to confront the impact of climate change on development sectors. In addition, they participated in the GCE Youth and Students Action Month in October 2022as speakers on “Media campaigns for women in the vocational and technical education sector in Palestine” and “Youth efforts to compensate for the learning loss for student in in Talbiya camp for Palestinian”. These efforts were foundational steps for the youth movement.

The idea of establishing a youth movement was raised during the Youth Educational Academy. The youth Committee members discussed the idea with the participants of the Youth Educational Academy 2023, who seemed more enthusiastic about establishing the movement. From here it was agreed to develop a code of conduct and an action strategy to organise this movement. Working groups were formed to distribute tasks and manage regional campaigns.

The emergence of the movement coincided with International Education Day, which created a significant opportunity to raise young people’s voices and prove their ability to lead efforts to advocate for the right to education. They used social media to express their demands and vision for quality education. They will not stop her; they will implement national and regional campaigns focused on policy dialogue to increase youth engagement and influence in public education policies.

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The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.