Ana Usharek, or “I Participate,” is an umbrella suite of programming that provides young Jordanians and marginalized groups with knowledge and skills to be more active in Jordanian civil and political life. Through Ana Usharek initiatives, including Usharek+, Ana Usharek Mujtama3i, Ana Usharek Intakhebni, Ana Usharek People With Disabilities (PWD), and Ana Usharek-Schools, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has had the great fortune of engaging with and supporting countless Jordanians in confronting challenges facing their communities and/or take advantage of opportunities that benefit them. The Ana Usharek initiatives have resulted in the updating of Jordan’s primary education curricula to include topics about democratic practices and the concept of citizenship and supported the design and implementation of numerous individual and collective advocacy initiatives by participants–the latter being arguably one of the most salient indicators of the programs’ successes. Moreover, pre-and post-assessments, interviews, and a plethora of continuous monitoring and evaluation processes underscore the significant and positive impact of the Ana Usharkek initiatives on Jordanian youth and marginalized groups.
The time has come for NDI to pass along the baton of managing the Ana Usharek / Usharek+ and Ana Usharek (AU)-Schools programs. The programs, centering around youth political education and participation, have seen marked success throughout their implementation. One illustration of this can be seen in the Ministry of Education’s plans to integrate the AU-Schools lessons into the national curriculum for students enrolled in primary and secondary institutions. The lessons cover key topics such as the rights and responsibilities of Jordanian citizens, the impacts of media on political processes, and good governance. Students and educators across the country reported active engagement and significant lessons learned as a result of the academic sessions, displaying a clear enhancement of civic education at multiple stages of students’ academic careers.
Another highlight of the Ana Usharek initiative lies in the numerous advocacy campaigns designed and implemented by Usharek+ and Ana Usharek-Schools participants. A few recent campaigns include “My disability is not an obstacle” and “You took my life, and preempted my death.” “My disability…” aims to address the challenges persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Jordan face and frequently endure, particularly with respect to available services, resources, and infrastructure. In May of 2022, the students spearheading the campaign held a meeting with the mayor of Mu’tah and Al-Mazar, who expressed his full support for the initiative and committed to further working with the students in a high-level capacity. Earlier this year, members of the “You took my life…” campaign actively implemented their initiative, which aims to reduce crimes and violence against women in Jordan. The students spoke to wide and high-profile audiences, introducing their message and objectives to other students, academics, government officials, and community leaders. The students garnered the support of influential figures, such as legal professionals, NGO executives, and social media experts as well. They were eventually able to secure an impressive venue based in the headquarters of the Qudarat Association for Community Development to host their outreach activities and network with other community figures down the line.
An Ana Usharek and Usharek+ graduate of Hashemite University expressed his gratitude for the program, thanking the Institute and its partners for the extensive work done in the region: “At first, I would like to say that I benefited a lot from Ana Usharek, so I completed it, and I completed Usharek+, and as soon as I finished it, I decided with a lot of effort to participate in the debates competition; to challenge myself and prove that I am able to take on any new experience and work on myself. For sure, it was a great feeling when I was accepted, and I thank all Ana Usharek staff.”
The Independent Election Commission, with NDI’s support and ongoing consultation, is in the process of taking on the role of implementing Ana Usharek’s lessons into national education systems, so the positive legacy of these programs looks set to carry on with Jordanian youth for many years to come. Ana Usharek has achieved one of the most difficult and important objectives of such programming–meaningful sustainability. For a project to be sustainable is for a project to be truly impactful, and NDI’s achievements through the Ana Usharek transition exemplify the realization of the program’s sustainability goals after more than a decade of incremental progress.
NDI’s in Jordan is implemented with support from Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) which is a program from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Authors: Marina Pole, Program Associate from the MENA team and Christopher Smyser, Senior Program Manager from the MENA team