Mr. Jarwolo: “Our effort is to encourage the youth to define their role in society”
The Young Political Leadership School (YPLS), a one week capacity-building semester program designed to build the political leadership and organizational skills of young people who have chosen to pursue a career in politics begins its fourth semester on July 31 at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship Church in Monrovia.
The program is expected to bring together 100 young political leaders from various political parties, university student organizations and other youth-led groups as well as youth candidates in the upcoming October elections. Young professionals who are passionate about improving democracy through effective youth leadership and participation are among the participants.
The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General, Farid Zarif, and United States Ambassador Christine Elder will address the opening ceremony.
Despite evidence that young people constitute about 65 percent of the nation’s population and those between 18-32 constitute 55 percent of registered voters in Liberia, the dividends of youth participation in national decision-making and political processes are inadequate.
To compound this malaise, the youth face increasing challenges ranging from the lack of basic social services to unemployment and multiple forms of inequalities as well as exclusion.
Eddie Jarwolo, NAYMOTE executive director, who is in charge of the YPL School, said the school is intended for young people who have chosen to pursue a career in politics to transform their communities for the better.
The program, Jarwolo said, further intends to expose young people to electoral politics, the campaign process, public speaking, and leadership skills. “The youths will also learn about campaign communications, press relations, research, polling and voter targeting thereby preparing them for transformative political leadership to serve their communities,” said Jarwol.
After the one-week training, the 100 who are expected to graduate will undertake a 12-week citizen engagement program, working on campaign teams, facilitating community forums, bringing voters face to face with the candidates, documenting campaign promises and serving as community leaders and volunteers.
“Indeed, the YPLS is dear to our hearts as an institution because we believe that it is more than just a school. It is part of a revolution to transform our political system for the good and ensure that solutions to problems in communities and passion for development remains a major component of the framework within which political parties can compete, so that the voters of Liberia can reap the benefits of their participation in decision-making,” he said.
The YPLS has graduated 230 students since April 2016, with six graduates being legislative candidates in the ensuing presidential and representative elections. Many others are part of their political party’s campaign teams, while others are playing leadership roles in their communities and institutions.
“The young political leaders are inspirational for the future hope of Liberia. If you get young people like these into leadership roles in five, ten to fifteen years, you will have a better country,” Jeff Fox, political communicator and facilitator of semester three YPLS, said.
The institution has received 357 applications, and the vetting process is ongoing by an independent team. Only 100 will be qualified for enrollment for the semester four program.