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– I had an idea about the Leadership Academy as a place with desks and papers, where you would just sit and listen to some lecturer. But what I have found here is very interesting and totally different from what I had imagined. The academy´s way of providing training is unconventional and non-authoritarian. A lot of time we are learning by doing. To be leader means to be supportive, not controlling, and I have learned how to support other people, says Amer Kurdi.

In June, Amer Kurdi attended a workshop in Jericho. There, while camping and hiking, he and the other participants learned about leadership skills; team building; research, analytical thinking and planning; communication skills; lobbying and advocacy skills. He is one of 20 participants in the Leadership Academy this year. One of his classmates is Rashad Ishtayeh.

– Before this capacity building workshop, we had different concepts about all these issues. During the workshop we could compare and discuss our views and reach common ground. The team building was very important, I could see that as a group we grew stronger. And my self-esteem has increased because of new knowledge. I can imagine to be leader now, says Rashad Ishtayeh.

In Palestine, the youth sector has been largely neglected in both development work and government programs. Government policies are seldom matched with the priorities of young people.

– Political parties are regarded by the youth as ineffective. And the current educational system is in fact a key factor explaining the limited analytical skills, limited practice of active citizenship and limited communication skills among young people, says Sophie Abu Soboh, Program Manager at the Leaders organization, which is the initiator of the Leaders Academy and supported by the Olof Palme International Center.

The Leaders Organization, in cooperation with the Olof Palme International Center, has carried out the Leadership Academy project since 2011. The project aims at establishing a leadership academy for preparing young people to actively participate in promoting and leading social change in Palestine. Every year at least 200 young people apply for a one year education.

Text: Svjetlana Duric

Photo: Olof Palme International Center

Published: 2013-09-04

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