Youth Civic and Political Participation and Citizenship Education in the South of the Mediterranean: Lessons from the Arab Spring
In December 2010, a young economically underprivileged Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire protesting the police confiscation of the fruits and vegetables he was selling in the Tunisian coastal town of Sidi Bouzid. This event generated a series of protests and demonstrations that spread across Tunisia until the dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was forced to leave the country in January 16th. Soon enough, the so-called “Arab Spring” spread to other Arab countries leading to the overthrowing of dictator rulers in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Further mass demonstrations and demands for political changes took place in Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Morocco, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Syria has been the focuses of daily demonstrations, repression and controversies over external involvement for several months.
Beyond the growing debate between the claim for the authenticity of the current Arab revolts and Western involvement, weather indirectly (Syria) or through direct military action (Libya), two striking facts remain unique to the current “Arab Spring”: first, the overwhelming mass involvement of the popular classes and their persistence to overthrow their ruling dictatorships. Second, there is clear leading role plaid by youth in organizing and sustaining the struggle. It is the second striking phenomenon of youth revolutionary involvement that constitutes the main themes of the current issue of JSSE.
There has been intense discussion on the promise (or the disillusionment) surrounding these events as either a sign (or a failure) of the democratic transition in the South of the Mediterranean. But, given the fact that young people are more than one-third of the population in the Arab world, the role of education and schools, on the one hand, and youth grassroots organizations, on the other, is central – and surely persists beyond the mediatisation of the “Arab Spring.”
But what are young people actual daily experiences in schools and beyond? What are meanings of these rising forms of political protest for young people? What visions of democracy and citizenship are being constructed? Is the emphasis on citizenship education merely another example of “educational borrowing and lending” with no real implication in the life of schools and the life of young people as pupils?
Editor: Isabel Menezes (University of Porto, Portugal) and Ibrahim Makkawi (Birzeit University, Palestine).
The deadline for submitting papers is September 15, 2012. Please do not hesitate to contact Isabel Menezes, email: email@example.com
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