The ‘EU4Youth: Student Democracy Now’ project is funded by the European Union. Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Armenia (EPF-Armenia) in a Consortium with Restart Scientific Educational Charitable Foundation (Restart Foundation), and Caucasus Research Resource Centre in Armenia (CRRC-Armenia) have been implementing the project since February 1, 2021. The duration of the project is 36 months.
The ‘EU4Youth: Student Democracy Now’ project aims to protect the rights of young people and strengthen the capacities of students and student organizations and to empower them to engage in public affairs. The project addresses a broad scope of challenges faced by Armenian youth spanning from their lack of awareness on the mandates and functions of student councils to their meaningful participation in policy dialogue for the development of a new education system – a system which cultivates active citizenship, listens to the students' voice as active participants in educational institutions and provides space for student engagement in university governance.
The objectives of the project will be achieved through a series of interconnected activities with the direct involvement and participation of the main beneficiaries of the project: students, young people and student organizations. The project comprises the following three major group of activities:
1. Education / Capacity Building
The Consortium have designed set of capacity enhancement activities for students, student organizations, non-formal groups and initiatives across the country: a) ReForum student open space workshop to develop skills on civic activism, rights protection, youth policies, educational reform, b) “Mardamej” Social-Innovation Camp to boost the creative potential of young people in Armenia, c) Critical-Thinking Schools focusing on deconstruction of the existing stereotypes and development of critical thinking skills, d) a series of trainings on organizational development (OD); student activism and rights protection; youth-led school/university governance, the human rights-based approach (RBA), building communities of practice, and gender mainstreaming, e) trainings on research methodology and implementation, communication and advocacy. Moreover, two study trips to Tartu (Estonia) and Groningen (The Netherlands) will be organized and two sets of student-led studies of international experience in the spheres of student democracy and student-centred education will be carried out.
The Consortium will provide Sub-grants/Sub-contracts to student CSOs, initiatives and non-formal groups for proposals that can significantly contribute to the objectives of the project. A competitive sub-granting scheme will provide support to 20 projects that will be implemented in at least 3 Yerevan-based and 2 regional universities. Although the specific topics and priorities of the competition will be developed based on the information collected during the initial phase of project implementation, however, the rights protection, evidence-based policy development, fight against corruption and students’ self-organization will be the indicative priorities of the competition. In addition, following the ReForum open space workshop, student initiatives developed there will receive small financial assistance, which apart from giving practical results, also will promote cooperation and networking among the participants. “Mardamej” Social-Innovation Camp will also result in funding projects for the development of 5 innovative e-tools.
EPF and Restart will define top priority topics and engage project beneficiaries in the process of development of policy and legal improvement packages based on the in-country trainings, sub-grant projects and study visits. Working groups will be formed and policymaking experts and project beneficiaries interested in this process (sub-grant recipients, CTS, Mardamej and capacity building event participants) will be engaged. These working groups will work on the selected topics and develop recommendations on policy and legal improvements. At least three sets of policy/legislative improvements will be developed and advocated by the Consortium with the active involvement of project beneficiaries engaging 100 decision-makers including the MoESCS, the National Assembly (NA) and 3 Yerevan based and 2 regional Universities, as well as private sector representatives, employers unions and business associations. The Consortium will present the recommendations developed to all major stakeholders (HEIs, MoESCS, and NA SC) and initiate discussions on their application, as well as will work with them in a targeted manner to make sure that these proposals are taken into account while developing or revising HEI codes of conduct, policies and legal acts.
- Increased capacity of students, student organizations and youth CSOs on critical thinking, organizational and social skills and competencies related to democratic values and human rights. More than 400 young people, including students and leaders of student organizations enhanced their knowledge and skills in organizational development, advocacy and rights protection, participatory university governance and cultivation of student-centered education. 60 young people from all regions of Armenia trained on how to develop online and offline tools addressing new and innovative forms of student self-organization, education, civic engagement, participation in university governance, decision-making and policy development. 3-5 innovative e-tools developed to improve the quality of student self-organization, transparency and accountability of universities, and engagement of students in advocacy, policymaking and university government. 150-200 students from regional universities, young activists and representatives of student and youth organizations develop critical thinking and analytical capacities.
- Improved participation of students, student organizations and youth CSOs in student- and youth-related policy-making. 10 priority topics related to student democracy, university autonomy and student-centered education identified and addressed via student initiatives. Two sets of student-led studies of international experience in the spheres of student democracy and student-centered education carried out and recommendations developed. At least 20 sub-grants provided in areas of strengthening student democracy, improvement of HEI labour market connection, policy and legal analysis, student rights protection (including equality issues), etc. At least three sets of youth-related policy/legislative improvements developed and advocated to more than 50 legislative and executive (incl. education system) duty bearers.