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"Rethinking Politics through Social Innovation" summer school

Source: Annahar
The main flyer of the event. (Courtesy of FNF Syrian and Lebanon)
The main flyer of the event. (Courtesy of FNF Syrian and Lebanon)
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BEIRUT: In an effort to explain why the existing political theory of Lebanon is so unconvincing to the youth, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Lebanon and Syria and Riyada for Social Innovation SAL launched "Rethinking Politics through Social Innovation" Summer School 2020.

Despite making up more than half the population in several countries, the youth often find themselves left out from mainstream politics and decision making. The youth struggle to gain the respect of the society and in particular the respect of public officials due to the belief that the youth lack the needed skills and experience in politics.  

“Rethinking Politics through Social Innovation” was able to bring together Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian youth residing in Lebanon to come up with socially innovative solutions to deal with Lebanese political issues of their choosing. The program took place virtually over 4 intensive days from August 26th until the 29th.

 With over 100 applicants to the programs, 35 were accepted and completed the program. Throughout the program, the participating youth were able to get a deeper understanding of different elements of politics with the help of expert local and international speakers and had the chance to hear first-hand from prominent politicians. They were able to define the factors and common misconceptions of Lebanese politics and the role of political parties in the political scene and policy-making. In addition to the impact of politics associated with society, they were asked to choose a specific problem and implement a solution using web development to pitch to a panel of expert jury members by the end of the program.

One of the main problems that the youth tackled in their team projects was the under-representation of youth in politics, the unawareness of the youth of important political issues, and the unawareness of the public of new qualified parliamentary candidates who present the unclassical parties and who would be able to enforce change. Moreover, the problem of under-representation of women in the parliament in addition to the need of revolutionizing the election process by integrating technology were some other problems that the teams focused on.  

“Through this program, we were able to rationalize that the only true power the people have in any political system is social innovation. Innovation plays a vital role both to fix and stabilize the representation of the shifting roles played through a government. Thanks to Riyada for Social Innovation and FNF Lebanon and Syria, we were given a real opportunity to participate in the political process and allowed our words to have a voice. Riyada for Social Innovation has aided in the transformation of the participating youth who will certainly be able to make a change for their future communities. On the other hand, FNF certainly brought inspiration and motivation to the table. They taught us the true meaning of freedom and the pursuit of meaningful change. Their liberal thinking and policies show devotion to civic education, international political dialogue, and most of all the importance of political counseling.” Says Yasmine Hodroj, a member of the winning team ELECT. 

About the Program Organizers:

Riyada for Social Innovation SAL

Riyada for Social Innovation SAL is a youth-focused training and consulting company with a core social mission of transforming the youth into social innovators who will make a change in their communities. Founded by a team of senior professionals in the academia, technology, and business management sectors, Riyada was successful in building strong partnerships and serving reputable customers in a short time.

Riyada (a term in Arabic which refers to pioneering and entrepreneurship) is a community changer that focuses on fostering social entrepreneurship using innovation and technology in the Arab communities through innovative training programs. By empowering the youth with skills and processes to devise creative solutions to their own problems, Riyada is contributing towards solving the youth burden problem and the various social problems that the Arab world faces. Moreover, Riyada is acting as a thought leader about social entrepreneurship bringing more attention to this kind of entrepreneurship in the Arab world through a well-thought portfolio of services that range between face-to-face and online training programs and which target different customer segments of different purchasing power.

Freidrich Naumann Foundation

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) is a German foundation devoted to the promotion of liberal principles and to political education. The goal of the foundation is to advance the principles of freedom and dignity for all people in all areas of society, both in Germany and abroad.

FNF Lebanon and Syria promotes liberal thinking and liberal policies in cooperation with local partners by organizing activities of civic education, seminars, conferences, supporting publications, and international political dialogues. FNF also provides political consulting mainly to liberal political parties in order to improve their programmatic basis, their strategic orientation and their political communication with citizens.

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