Kyrgyz Republic President Roza Otunbayeva, as well as other high level government and civic leaders, attended the opening ceremony of the Summer School of Democracy held June 13 in Bishkek. The week-long event was supported by the International Youth Foundation (IYF), in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Soros Foundation. More than 100 young leaders from across Central Asia came together to discuss the promotion of democratic ideas and lay the groundwork for greater civic participation of young people throughout the region. Top officials attending the event included USAID/Kyrgyz Repbulic Country Director Carey Gordon and Awais Sufi, Vice President for Programs at IYF.

Summer School of Democracy

The School is the initial activity of  a four-year IYF initiative, called, that seeks to engage a new generation of young people in Central Asia to build a stable, prosperous and democratic society. Over the long term, the program, which is part of IYF’s Youth:Work global initiative, will work to increase young people’s leadership and civic skills, deepen their understanding of the democratic process and prepare them for success in the job market.

Helping to lay the foundation for the long-term program, the Summer School of Democracy encourages youth participants to share their own ideas on how to address challenges facing their communities. Activities included discussions around politics, the economy, culture, diversity and human rights, as well as sessions designed to strengthen the young leaders’ critical thinking skills. Thematic sessions were led by directors of civil society organizations, policy makers, ambassadors and business leaders, who provided the young people with valuable hands-on experience in active citizenship. 

The Summer School of Democracy has gained critical support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Youth Project, the Soros Foundation Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz Republic Election Support Project funded by the European Commission and the Government of Austria, and the “Institute for Civic Education.”

The initiative in Kyrgyz Republic is part of Youth:Work,  a USAID-funded global initiative that enables USAID bureaus and missions to access IYF’s proven youth employability programs, services, and expertise. Youth:Work programs also are currently being implemented in countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.