The global spread of COVID-19 and widespread adoption of social distancing measures are posing new challenges for NDI’s programming.
Until recently, NDI’s Ana Usharek (“I Participate”) university civic education and youth political participation program held weekly in-person discussion sessions at 23 universities across Jordan. The program increases youth engagement in the electoral and political spheres through civic education and active learning. NDI-trained coordinators facilitate student discussions about democratic practices and current events to ground the basic principles of democracy: human rights, political parties, electoral systems, the role of media, citizenship, local governance, tolerance and positive communication, conflict resolution, and gender.
So, how has the program adapted in the face of a government-mandated curfew and other COVID-19 restrictions?
It’s gone virtual! To get the word out, NDI created a social media campaign with videos (see below) to encourage students to continue to attend. And, they did. In less than a week, 1,362 students joined online sessions at 17 universities. The digital approach has been so successful, in fact, Jordan’s Independent Election Commission has used the program for elections-related sessions with the students.
As NDI and our partners look for creative ways to support inclusive democracy in today’s challenging circumstances, the Ana Usharek program’s nimbleness shows social distancing cannot stop meaningful civic engagement.