Silatech, a youth youth development organization that works across the Arab region on employment, entrepreneurship and engagement, launched an initiative called Wajibi: My Community, My Education. ICP partnered with Silatech to support universities across the Arab region to increase their efforts in civic engagement.
University civic engagement plays a critical role in transforming societies, empowering students, and substantively addressing complex social, political and economic challenges. The limited research that exists on the subject underscores the significance of networks to sustain student-focused civic engagement programs, especially at the level of higher education. The Initiative’s focus was based upon strengthening and formalizing the existing Ma’an Alliance for Civically Engaged Arab Universities.
The Initiative had three core components: (1) a two-day seminar on the integration of civic engagement on university campuses; (2) creating and implementing the first phase of a small grants program made available to groups within universities based in the Arab Region; and (3) providing support for the capacity building of the Ma’an Alliance.
On April 9, 2014, Silatech hosted and facilitated a consultation featuring over 40 university presidents and senior administrators meeting in Amman, Jordan to discuss how to strengthen and expand civic engagement activities at higher education institutions in the Arab world.
Document and analyze university civic engagement practices at target institutions; and Expand, strengthen and consolidate the existing university civic engagement network as a sustainable regional community of practice for civic engagement that will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and resources across the region.
Silatech and ICP accepted four university proposals; their programs ran from May 1, 2014 until April 30, 2015.
The mission of Al Akhawayn University (AUI), a public institution in Ifrane, Morocco, is based on principles of diversity and driven by values of human solidarity and tolerance. The university’s Wajibi initiative built on social responsibility in its strategic plan and a mandated community service requirement for all degree-seeking undergraduates. Fifteen faculty piloted the inclusion of service learning in 30 courses, placing 450 students with 10 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), with the aim of extending the approach to most courses at the university. AUI offered training activities for faculty, students, and partner organizations, and linked curriculum and skills development more closely to local social concerns.
Ibn Zohr University (UIZ) is a public institution in Agadir, Morocco, whose purpose is to promote the emergence of the intellectual, moral, and cultural abilities of students in all fields of knowledge, enabling them to demonstrate technological, artistic, and scientific creativity. UIZ established a university network that served to centralize all civic engagement activities and practices. The goals of the network are to encourage and support all campus activities related to the field; engage with the ecosystem through partnering with civil society organizations; enhance the capacity of the local community; and encourage students and academics to engage in community-based research.
The mission of Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) is to raise the educational, cultural, and civilization levels in Palestinian society; keep up with current trends in higher education and technology advancements; encourage scientific research; and contribute to developing future generations and society in a framework of Islamic values. Through the Wajibi initiative IUG assessed the awareness of the importance of civic engagement at the university level; developed a strategic plan to promote participation and community service on campus; spread the culture of civic engagement and societal service within different university departments and faculties; and developed and disseminated a directory on civic engagement best practices to students and faculty.
Palestine Polytechnic University (PPU), located in the West Bank city of Hebron, is a public university that provides academic and vocational degrees in engineering and technology. The university established civic engagement standards by incorporating principles and practices in its strategic plan and academic and nonacademic policies. PPU also built capacity for and standardized best practices of civic engagement by piloting initiatives in service learning, volunteer work, and community-based research. More than 125 students, faculty, and academic staff participated in awareness and training workshops, worked to update curricula, and created volunteer and service learning projects in the local community.
This university network was formed in 2008 by the Gerhart Center at the American University in Cairo (AUC). It is a regional chapter of the Talloires Network, an international alliance of over 270 universities whose presidents have committed to strengthen the civic roles and social responsibilities of institutions of higher education. The Ma’an Alliance now includes thirteen universities from eight MENA countries with each member committed to graduating civically-engaged and entrepreneurial youth capable of building the societies they aspire to live in.
A dynamic social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world. Silatech’s mission is to connect young people with improved opportunities for employment, enterprise and civic engagement. They accomplish this by mobilizing knowledge, investment, technology and networks, and by influencing mindsets and policies that are key to unlocking wider impact.
- Middle East Youth Initiative’s Civic Participation Publications
- Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Town Hall with Tunisian Youth (2/25/12)
- President Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University (6/4/09)