Youth Political Leadership Academy
Today's Youth, Tomorrow's Leadership

Historical Background

Since 2004, the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations has established a capacity building program known as “Party Leadership Development” which was focusing on the senior political party leaders and starting from February 2010 the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations (the Forum), successfully launched a Pilot Youth Party Leadership Academy (YPLA) in Rwanda. The trainings shall seek to prepare youth in political parties for leadership roles, and in addition equip the youths with the necessary skills and knowledge to meaningfully participate in national governance and development.

Four activists under age 35 from each of Rwanda’s 10 registered political parties attended three evening classes each week for 10 weeks. Sessions led by international and local political experts and academics covered such topics as: political party organizing and functioning; political communication; training skills; good governance; political career paths; ethical leadership; negotiation and conflict prevention; and using technology for political organizing. Thirty-four students successfully completed the Academy and graduated in April 2010. As a culmination of the YPLA, the four top-performing students participated in a five-day study mission to Accra, Ghana. There, they learned first-hand from Ghanaian party youth leaders, professors, civil society representatives, and other political actors how youth can participate actively in their political parties—and support peaceful, democratic politics in the process.

Soon after the Academy’s conclusion, some political parties quickly recognized the graduates’ potential to contribute to their parties. Many graduates were invited to play significant roles in the campaigns leading to Rwanda’s August 9, 2010 presidential elections. Graduates trained fellow party members in campaign skills, or helped to organize campaign rallies or get-out-the-vote efforts. Others participated by serving as political party agents at polling stations. Also, four Academy graduates served as members of the election observation mission organized by the Forum. These young persons were able to showcase their new skills, demonstrating how much youth can contribute to Rwanda’s political process and opening the door for greater youth political activism in the future. Graduates have continued to play an active role in internal party trainings since the election.

Based on the largely positive feedback received from the program before, during, and beyond the conclusion of the pilot YPLA, and in order to continue assisting Rwanda’s political parties to attract youth and take advantage of the benefits young people bring to political processes, it has been decided to establish a sustainable YPLA program in Rwanda.

Party leaders in Rwanda had expressed a particular interest in support for enhancing the capacity of young party members to take on increasing leadership roles within their respective 5 parties. This could involve building the organizational and management skills of party youth to contribute to political party development.

Then, it has been agreed on the establishment of the sustainable YLPA not only serving Kigali, but also in other provinces of the country in order to facilitate as many youth party leaders/activists as possible to benefit from this Academy. That is why in March 2011, it has been launched the second promotion of the program and the same covered courses during the first promotion, of the Academy were also repeated for the second promotion of the 2011 academy with a better developed done on the content designing as proposed in the evaluation of the pilot project. High standard professors/academics with wide experience in the relevant domains will be identified as facilitators/lecturers at the Academy. In addition, prominent political practitioners will be invited to make presentations to and share their practical experiences with the academy participants.

For the second promotion of the YLPA, 80 participants have successfully completed the courses and graduated in June 2011.

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