detail - Syria/Iraq Office
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Since the outbreak of the war in 2011, the Syrian society has been deeply divided on many levels. While the focus of the international community has mostly been on humanitarian and emergency responses, there is a need for involving Syrians, especially the youth, in the future of their country. For this purpose, KAS and Hamzet Wasel initiated a program designed to provide young Syrians with courses on politics and the principles of democracy in order for them to become the drivers for non-violent change in their country. More precisely, the aim of the program is to raise awareness among young people on political sciences theories, engagement and participation in democratic change; to empower them to apply gained knowledge and skills on democratic participation and peaceful change; and to create an open space for dialogue between young Syrians coming from different regions and backgrounds.
As an ongoing program, the Syrian Academy for Non-Violent Change started off with its first phase in March 2019 and included 25 participants living in Syria and Lebanon. Three workshop trainings of four days each were given to these participants in March, April, and July of 2019. The first workshop introduced the participants to political science, creating the foundation for political understanding and awareness among the participants. Following this groundwork, the second workshop focused on the elements of democracy in modern states, political rights, and channels of practicing these rights such as parliament, municipalities, political parties, and elections. While increasing the knowledge of the participants on democratic institutions and elements, the courses also provided new perspectives for the participants on how they could practice and advocate for their political rights and public issues. The last workshop then applied the gained knowledge on the Syrian case by teaching about Syria's political history and social structure. In addition to building solid knowledge about these topics connected to different paths of non-violent change in societies and international political values that are absent in the education system in Syria, the participants also trained their gained skills by writing analytical research papers on political issues chosen individually. During October 2019, in continuation of the first series of courses a fourth workshop was held on the topics of justice and non-violence, aimed at creating the foundation for a peaceful transformation of society.