IDIA to host Model ECOWAS in West Africa
-- Will join with Better Africa Youth Initiative to run 2-day conference in Gambian capital
Banjul, The Gambia -- The Institute for Domestic & International Affairs, Inc. will run a two-day Model ECOWAS conference in the West African country of the Gambia, beginning on July 26. The conference represents the continuing commitment by IDIA of bringing its unique model of simulation education to West Africa.
"IDIA first established its relationship with the Better Africa Youth Initiative in 2007, and we have been strengthening our partnership ever since," said IDIA Executive Director Michael Hinchliffe. "What started as a series of leadership development programs has evolved into a Model ECOWAS -- we are going to challenge these Gambian students to think for themselves about Access to Education, and the impact that it has on their lives."
Made up of fifteen member states, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is an entity designed to align important regional policies to ensure opportunities for growth throughtout West Africa. In two concurrent discussions, sixty Gambian secondary school students will represent these states regarding the availability and accessibility of education for their youth. By learning about the diverse education opportunities and styles found in the region, the students will be able to develop a list of best practices. At the end of the first day, they will agree to a document proposing these changes. The second day will see the same students step out of their roles, and reflect on their own personal experiences in education, assessing the likelihood of the success of their proposals.
"Our programs in the Gambia have centered around students in the Gambia developing their own voice on issues of importance to them," said Hinchliffe. "By first representing the different member states of ECOWAS, and then offering their own personal reflections, these students will have unique insight into their own educations and future opportunities. It is our hope that this discussion will make more public areas of concern, and will begin to bring about open dialogue on important issues. By developing the next generation of Gambian leaders, we have the unique opportunity to prepare for a stronger future for people throughout the country."
IDIA will be represented during these conferences by veterans of the Gambia program. Stephanie Horwitz has traveled to the Gambia four times and was a Conference Manager for Philadelphia Model United Nations 2007. Ruchi Gupta returns to the Gambia for her second visit, and served as the Secretary-General for Rutgers Model United Nations 2008. Both Ruchi and Stephanie are current Teach for America Corps Members, teaching in Philadelphia and Oakland, respectively. IDIA Executive Director Michael Hinchliffe, who has more than 15 years of experience in civics education and engagement programs, will also work with the students, focusing on developing their academic and leadership potential.
The Model ECOWAS conference is made possible through the partnership between IDIA and the Better Africa Youth Initiative (BAYI), an NGO committed to working with Gambian youth to take control of their lives and bring about positive social change. The relationship, which began in 2007, represents a critical aspect in accomplishing IDIA's civics education mission, and is at the center of future growth. IDIA is actively exploring further global opportunities to bring its model of simulation eduction to more young people, regardless their country of origin.