Civic & Political Education
One of the most important pillars of success for a democracy is the awareness of its citizens about their rights and duties. In Libya, informing its citizens about these notions has become urgent and essential. February 17th, 2011, the day that the Libyan Revolution began, was the moment that inspired Mohamed Hamuda to establish the H20 Organization. The purpose of the H20 was to educate the Libyan youth on the principles of human rights, as well as democracy as an institution that guarantees citizenship and the ability to exercise one’s rights and duties.
Educating a society that has never practiced democracy, but rather has lived under totalitarian regimes for decades has proved to be very difficult. Under past regimes, all partisan work and all forms of recognized democracies were banned so that a select few could remain in power. Additionally, Libya is a rentier society, where the people do not have the ability to pressure authority because their contribution to the national product through taxes is negligible. Instead, the government sells oil on behalf of the people and distribute its revenues in the form of various expenses, including salaries, fuel subsidies, food, and to reimburse concessions, services and development. Unfortunately, this process is done in a manner that lacks good governance and many cases are corrupted and marred.
Therefore, to foster change in Libya, Hamuda has utilized H20 to design civil and political programs that target young people between the ages of 15 and 25, who have the desire to engage in public affairs. Ideal candidates are those who have an eagerness to learn and have ideas that they aspire to implement in an innovative way. Their education comprises of three main steps, which includes gaining knowledge, acquiring skills, and obtaining experience. Hamuda’s philosophy teaches that someone without knowledge is not aware, yet one who possesses awareness without skills is merely a theorist. His teachings assert that one who has both awareness and skills, without experience is selfish; however, through the obtainment of all three, one becomes an active citizen.
In the knowledge portion of training, the program focuses on the theoretical side of human rights, their classifications, and their sources. It also addresses the founding values of citizenship and covers the workings of a democratic system and how it can guarantee and enhance one’s citizenship and one’s civil and political rights. The curriculum also covers the application of democracy through the different systems in government, and the tools that democracy utilizes, such as elections and referendums. This first educational step in the program stresses the importance of the constitutional aspect of democracy, in terms of its various classifications and designs. It also highlights the differences in comparison to Libyan constitutions, while explaining the process of making the Libyan constitution through the governing body elected in 2014, and all the developments related to the drafting process and legislation accompanying the implementation of this constitution and the ensuing referendum.
In the second leg of training, the program focuses on providing the participants with the necessary skills to make them more efficient in public affairs and more capable in advancing democracy. These skills include planning strategically, conducting dialogue, analyzing conflict, advocating effectively, monitoring and controlling situations, mobilizing resources, and writing proposals. Paired with the knowledge that was attained in the first portion of training, these new abilities will allow the trainees to develop their ideas and turn them into feasible projects that can influence public affairs.
The third stage of training concentrates on experience, that is, enabling those involved in awareness programs to apply their acquired skills though real projects and campaigns on the ground. These campaigns, where young people are at the forefront, are aimed at supporting the democratic transformation in Libya.
Hamuda’s engineering background makes him a person who is primarily concerned with the practical and application side of social change. Hamuda is fully convinced that any knowledge that is not followed by action is of no avail; therefore, he has launched many campaigns and projects throughout his career.
The process of increasing civil and political awareness is a continuous cycle, composed of research, training, and experience that extends across generations. Only through this cycle of awareness, will Libyan society be able to manage its affairs, settle its conflicts, and invest its resources and energies peacefully, culturally, and democratically. Clearly, this awareness must be cultivated to invoke a change towards democracy, and it has begun with efforts from figures like Hamuda. Although this change begins with individuals, it must be sustained by institutions.
The media has allowed Hamuda to reach a greater range of people, which has increased the exposure of his projects and campaigns. Specifically, he has utilized the media during his years of work in the field of democratic development, where he focused on empowering younger generations.
Mohamed Hamuda believes that reconciliation must first begin with the will of members in society and victims of the conflict. Only then, can justice be achieved through the efforts of civil and political institutions, as well as security policies, which take into account geographical, demographic, and cultural dimensions.
On top of participating in myriads of forums and conferences, Mohamed is also a jury member of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organization’s young leaders’ program in Libya, and a member of the UNDP’s Arab Human Development Report.
Mohamed Hamuda, has always been an individual who has sought change for the greater benefit beyond himself. His vision, bigger than the local world which surrounded him; a mission to advocate and integrate change within a local, regional and global scale.