Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue in Romania and Moldova (YCED)
The Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue (YCED) Program brings together Roma and non-Roma students in Romania and Moldova to lead local development projects in their schools and communities. Youth become active citizens who mobilize their peers to build tolerance across ethnic divisions. Using a “community schools” model , the program trains teachers and NGO leaders to support youth and manage ethnic tensions effectively, working to incorporate active citizenship and cross-cultural understanding in schools. In the short-term, youth gain valuable skills for and attitudes toward civic engagement and tolerance that will make them agents of positive change for the remainder of their lives.
YCED is a program of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State. YCED is implemented by IREX in partnership with Romani CRISS, an NGO that works to defend and promote the rights of Roma throughout Romania.
• Youth participants aged 14-18 gain the skills to be active, engaged leaders who mobilize peers to improve their lives, schools, and communities;
• Youth reduce ethnic tensions and promote intercultural tolerance by working together through community service initiatives; and
• Teachers and local institutions effectively promote civic engagement and tolerance among Roma and non-Roma youth.
While Romania and Moldova have made impressive strides towards promoting intercultural education and increasing school attendance among Roma children at the primary level, limited support exists for rural and marginalized youth beyond Grade 8. Roma youth experience a high drop-out rate at the high school level lack employment opportunities, and risk becoming disengaged, passive, and disenfranchised. This program seeks to engage both Roma and non-Roma youth in broader community issues, promoting active citizenship and fostering tolerance that will have positive effects on communities.
Community Schools Academy for Roma and Non-Roma Youth – Both Roma and non-Roma youth come together in a supportive environment to learn skills in conflict resolution, community needs assessments, and project management.
Youth-led Community Improvement Projects – After working with trained adults to assess community needs, Roma and majority youth form action teams to implement local projects that address their needs andto improve their communities. Youth develop a cross-cultural network and learn how to engage the broader community in promoting tolerance.
Community Schools Academy for Teachers and Local NGO Leaders – To foster institutional change for better youth programming, Roma and non-Roma youth-serving adults gain the competencies necessary to support youth civic engagement efforts using a Positive Youth Development approach. Through this approach, youth are seen and treated as assets, and the program focuses on building on their strengths to heighten their development and contributions to society. With assistance from IREX, trained adults become mentors for their colleagues.
- • Over 300 youth from 19 communities have formed Youth Action Teams and are currently working to improve their schools in Romania and Moldova
- • 68% of youth reported completing the first community project of their lives through the YCED program
- • Over 1300 Roma and non-Roma students and community members have been impacted through program activities in the first year of the project
News & Impact
Youth from Romania and Moldova gave voice to their personal stories of change in a participatory evaluation of the Youth Civic Engagement and Dialogue program. Using the Most Significant Change technique, more than 80 youth participated in an evaluation in which they gathered stories of change from each other and shared their recommendations for the future of the project.