Usharek Activity

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Usharek Activity
Usharek Activity
USAID

BACKGROUND

In 2021, King Abdullah II formed a Royal Committee on Political Modernization to formulate recommendations on how to propel Jordan’s political landscape toward a Constitutional Monarchy. One key recommendation enshrined in the 2022 Election Law is for political candidacy to be reduced from 30 to 25 years of age. With a massive youth bulge (70% of the population is under 30) and high youth unemployment (50% of youth under 30 are unemployed), increasing youth’s participation in civic and political life is key to their achieving constructive engagement with their government and communities.

PROJECT OVERVIEWS

USAID’s Ana Usharek program, designed and implemented by the National Democratic Institute at Jordanian public and private universities, offers a series of guided, interactive discussion sessions on democratic concepts and processes to raise awareness of Jordanian youth on political participation and create safe avenues for youth to discuss, debate, and exercise democratic principles and international best practices. The program has engaged more than 62,000 university students to date.

Top graduates of the program then advance to the Usharek+ program where students pursue an interactive leadership training focused on advocacy and campaign skills in which students design and implement advocacy campaigns around topics ranging from local issues to issues of national concern. More than 6,000
university students have participated in the advanced program.

In 2016, USAID partnered with the Ministry of Education to adapt the Usharek program for a younger cohort of school students aged 10 to 16. Since then, 34,000 students have participated in the program. In 2018, USAID partnered with the Crown Prince Foundation as the leading local institution with the mandate, ability, and vision to build on the Usharek university program. The Foundation has implemented the program in 13 public and private universities. Finally, in 2021 USAID expanded the partnership to work with the Independent Election Commission and Crown Prince Foundation to ensure sustainability of the Usharek program as USAID’s direct support to the Program comes to an end in June 2023.

NOTEWORTHY ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Over the past decade, USAID has engaged roughly 100,000 young men and women at the elementary and secondary school and university levels through the Usharek Program. Usharek graduates from across the Kingdom are now in positions of influence including: Running and winning local election seats and representing youth in national fora such as the Royal Committee on Political Modernization.  
  • Through its advanced leadership program, Usharek+, Jordanian youth led nearly 280 advocacy campaigns concerning local, university-level, or national-level issues. Notable achievements include Usharek participants with disabilities successfully campaigning for the Independent Election Commission to change the polling station location in the town of Beit Jaffa to an accessible one, which ensured their right to vote in the 2022 local elections. In addition, Usharek participants successfully advocated for the use of renewable energy sources on the campus of Jordan University of Science and Technology, resulting in a 20 megawatts solar energy contract in 2021, which will significantly help reduce the university's power bill.  
  • In 2016, USAID introduced Usharek Schools in partnership with the Ministry of Education as an extracurricular curriculum on political awareness and civic education at the elementary, middle, and high-school levels. Since then, this model program has reached 656 public schools and resulted in over 1,000 student-led initiatives creating positive change in local communities. For example, in Karak, elementary school students used their public advocacy skills to advocate for bridge lighting in Al-Naqa bridge which made the location safer for community members.

MOVING FORWARD

USAID will continue to work with the Government of Jordan on increasing civic engagement by advancing political participation and civic leadership opportunities with a continued focus on the participation of women and youth. In April 2022, USAID initiated an assessment to identify opportunities, barriers, and creative approaches to deepen and further increase youth political and civic engagement in Jordan. The assessment report, including field and desk research, will be finalized in the summer of 2022 and will inform USAID’s future interventions to further support civic and political engagement of Jordanian youth.

Last updated: June 22, 2022

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