Lebanon

Participate to Change …

After seven years of meetings, workshops and studies, youth policy paper has eventually seen the light in 2012. Approved by the Council of Ministers, the Youth and Sports committee in the Lebanese parliament is currently studying all the aspects and reforms this new policy will bring to the Lebanese young generation.

From this perspective, and in order to create awareness among the Lebanese youth, the Youth Sector in the Future Movement (FM) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation – Beirut Office (FNF) held a Youth Policy Forum: “Participate to Change” on Saturday June 13, 2015 under the patronage of HE former Prime Minister Saad El Hariri at Le Commodore Hotel, Beirut.

Participating in the drafting stage of the youth policy paper, the Youth Sector in the Future Movement assembled young politicians from different political parties to discuss in working groups four main issues affecting the new generation’s day to day life and putting question marks around their sense of citizenship and patriotic belonging.

Members of parliament, ministers and FNF Beirut team were among a crowd of 220 representatives of various political parties and Non-Governmental Organizations.

During the opening ceremony, the head of youth sector Wissam Chibli assured that the FM youth are working hard, using all available resources, to help in finding practical solutions and initiatives to enhance youth’s role. Chibli also affirmed that fostering youth’s right in political participation will be earned through means based on openness, moderation and fruitful dialogue.

Representing MP Saad Hariri, the Secretary General of the Future Movement Ahmad Hariri directed his talk to the youth alerting them from the “non-existence” of a magic wand that can suddenly change everything according to their wishes. He added that “we all know that the solid will of young people will make the change. The journey toward Change starts with a step forward. Our conference today is the beginning”.

Moderated by Mr. Ziad Daher, the first panel of the conference gathered MP Ahmed Fatfat, Former Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud, MP Jean Oghassabian along with Joseph Saadallah (Representative of Ministry of Youth and Sports) to discuss “Youth Support Mechanisms”. In his intervention, MP Ahmad Fatfat tackled the issue of “Youth Card”, which has not been implemented yet.  Fatfat pointed out that “the political circumstances do not justify the failure in improving Lebanese youth conditions”. On a separate note, MP Jean Oghassabian stressed on “the importance of youth participation in political life and their role in contributing to the development and progress of the country” referring to the “existing disadvantages due to the lack of youth active participation in political life.” Besides, Former Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud expressed his disappointment toward the policies adopted by certain universities concerning student cabinets’ elections.

The morning sessions were followed by four working groups tackling different Youth Policy issues during which four drafts laws, prepared by FM Youth, were discussed.

WG1: Youth and Participation in Decision Making

Speakers:

  • MP West Beqaa Ziad Qadri
  • Advisor to the Minister of Interior – Khalil Jbara
  • Moderator: President of Massar (Reform NGO) - Kamal Chia

Qadri stressed on the importance of “youth participation in political life as a prerequisite and a precondition for civic engagement and the development of a democratic system”, adding that “the most important step to foster this participation is to engage the youth as real partners in political decision-making." From his side, Jbara stressed on the idea that highlights the important “role youth can play to preserve what remains.”

 
Working Group 1 Panelists:  Qadri, Chia, and Jbara (left to right)

 

 

 

 

 

Working Group 1 Panelists:  Qadri, Chia, and Jbara (left to right)

WG2: Education

Speakers:

  • Director General of the Minister of Education and Higher Education – Fadi Yarak
  • Moderator: National Campaign for Electoral Reform (Reform NGO) - Dr. Mazen Khatib

Dr. Mazen al-Khatib explained why public schools are always dependent on external donors’ money. He actually said that “there is an equipment shortage in public schools. There is a problem in the schools’ structure which will only lead us to ask donors for restoration.”

Working Group 2: Headed by Fadri Yarak and Mazen Khatib

The session was highly interactive especially that new educational reforms were suggested by the participants coming from different political backgrounds. They were offered a platform to share their concerns, match and link their ambitions and suggest educational reforms.

WG3: Youth Card

Speakers:

  • MP Beirut – Dr. Amar Houri
  • Moderator: Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) – Tala Itani

Ms. Itani introduces the session by asking open ended questions concerning the implementation of a pragmatic youth card. She shared with the participants her previous experience in a working group discussing the same issue with a parliamentarian 10 years ago.  From his side, MP Houry informed the participants that “The Youth Card project got national consensus “and assured that he is “willing to provide unlimited support to pass it.”

The participants of this working group discussed each article proposed by the presented draft law. The session was concluded by the formation of a committee which tasks are amending the draft law and following up on the issue with concerned parliamentarian committee (Sports and Youth).

MP Amar Houri heading the 3rd Working Group “Youth Card” along with Tala Itani FNF Beirut Office Project Coordinator

WG4: Youth Economic Role

Speakers:

  • Former Ministry of Finance – Dr. Jihad Azour
  • Advisor to Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri for Economic Affairs - Mazen Hanna
  • Moderator: National Committee for Democratic Elections (Reform NGO) Dr. Ali Murad

Azour, Murad, and Hanna (Panelists from left to right) listening to the 4th Working Group Participants’ suggestions

The panelists along with the participants have agreed on several focal points to activate Lebanese Youth role in the economy, such as:

  1. Qualitative reforms in the current education system that enhances young people’s professional and technical competencies.
  2. Empowerment of start-ups through governmental pivotal moves such as tax exemption for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The third session, moderated by Nadim Chammas (Lebanese Forces – Student Sector), aimed at presenting the outcomes of the four working groups.

The final session, moderated by Inas Tamim (Future Movement – Youth Sector Council member), aimed at introducing different mechanisms of implementations of the presented recommendations.

The “Youth Policy Forum” was the first and central one among a series of four forums that will be held in the North, Mount Lebanon & South, and Bekaa governorates.

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