September 29, 2010: New Programs in the Middle East and North Africa

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Citizenship Education in the Middle East and North Africa: A path to sustainable democracy, peace and security  In the political systems in the Arab world, a citizen’s role is generally reduced to his or her allegiance to the State. The notion of citizenship is interpreted restrictively and the full rights of citizens are not recognized. Citizens lack political space to express their views and to participate democratically in their societies.  Equitas’ partners in the region identified improving the relationships between civil society organizations and the State and working towards recognition of the people as full and active citizens an important priority for Equitas’ continued work in the region. Equitas and its partners believe that an informed, empowered and engaged citizenship offers a sustainable and peaceful alternative to conflict.  Five countries are targeted for this project: Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. The project activities include the development of a toolkit and approaches that will equip frontline civic education workers and local and national government officials to promote citizenship and mobilize people in their communities and societies. It also aims to increase the confidence of local communities and their participation in developing and fulfilling citizenship projects at the local and national levels.  Promoting harmonious relations and peaceful conflict resolution for children in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon Equitas will also be working with the Arab Network for Human Rights and Citizenship Education (ANHRE) and the Change Academy for Democratic Studies and Development and other civil society organizations in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq to promote and enhance harmonious relations, human rights, non discrimination and peaceful conflict resolution among children aged from 6 to 12 living in harsh, vulnerable and marginalized conditions. This will be done, in part, by the introduction of Equitas’ Play It Fair! program which is supported by a toolkit with games and activities that develop knowledge and skills, attitudes and behaviors enabling children to integrate universal human rights values such as respect, acceptance of diversity and inclusion into their daily lives.

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