Tuesday, May 23, 2007

Civitas Africa Project Citizen Students Meet at First Regional Showcase

Civitas Africa Project Citizen Students Meet at First Regional Showcase

Students from the six Civitas Africa member-nations implementing Project Citizen in 2005–06 presented their public policy portfolios at the first Civitas Africa Project Citizen regional showcase in Dakar, Senegal. The showcase, which took place July 30–August 2, 2006, was attended by Civitas Africa country directors from Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa, their U.S. partners, teachers, representatives of local nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and education ministry officials from several participating countries.

Students presented their public policy portfolios, addressing issues such as flood planning, dilapidated school buildings, child labor, and traffic safety. Activities included a visit to the House of Slaves historical site on Gorée Island, a reception at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence, and a closing celebration dinner and dance.

In her remarks at the reception, U.S. Ambassador Janice Jacobs said to students, “Your dedication and accomplishments demonstrate that you are among the future leaders of your respective nations. Your analysis of public policy questions—and more importantly, your recommended solutions—are cause for both hope and pride in the power of youth to effect positive change in a continent that faces so many political and socioeconomic challenges.”

Deborah Price, Assistant Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, wrote the following in a letter of support: “On behalf of the United States Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, we are pleased that a portion of our federal funds are able to provide support for the Civitas program to be implemented and rooted in this Africa region.”

Since the showcase, many participating students have presented their Project Citizen portfolios to local officials, and some have taken action to have their public policy proposals adopted. Students from Louga presented their portfolio on pedophilia to Moustapha Sourang, Senegal’s Minister of Education, during the showcase. Afterwards, they received a computer lab with Internet access to continue their research on the topic. In Mauritius, students organized a peaceful march to raise awareness of traffic hazards on market days near their campus.

For more information, see www.civiced.org.