Monday,12 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1324, (15 - 21 December 2016)
Monday,12 November, 2018
Issue 1324, (15 - 21 December 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Youths brought on board

The presidency hosted a second round of dialogue with youth, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his cabinet this week spent nine hours in a dialogue with hundreds of youths, the first follow-up meeting after the National Youth Conference (NYC) held in October.
 
Participants in Saturday’s meeting tackled a host of issues, from the Egyptian economy to education, administrative corruption, the population explosion and other challenges.
 
The conference was attended by several ministers, government officials, political and religious leaders and MPs. NYC, the first meeting of its kind, had recommended holding a monthly gathering between young leaders and senior government officials to discuss pressing issues.
 
Under the theme Innovate Advance, over 3,000 young people from a number of the country’s universities and political parties attended the October meeting held in Sharm El-Sheikh.
 
According to the presidency the aim of the conference and subsequent monthly meetings is to bring together Egypt’s prominent future leaders with state officials and institutions, giving them the chance to debate directly the present and future and exchange ideas and experiences for a better future for their country through constructive dialogue and a pre-planned vision.

The outcome of the October conference was the Detained Youth Committee which prepared a list of 82 detainees who were released by a presidential pardon in November. According to members in the committee, a second list has been presented to Al-Sisi which includes 300 to 400 detainees and which may be signed by the president in the weeks ahead.
 
In the Saturday conference Al-Sisi pledged to amend the new protest law to meet the demands of youth stated in the October gathering.
 
“I instructed the government to submit the protest law amendments in 15 days to parliament,” Al-Sisi said.
 
Additionally Al-Sisi called on parliament to re-consider a newly approved NGOs law to strike a balance between advancing civil society and protecting national security.
 
The first panel at the event focused on ways to develop education and included speakers such as the ministers of education and higher education.

During the discussion, Al-Sisi said Egyptians would not accept directing all the country’s resources at improving education, as some countries did, while putting on hold all other development projects.
 
“We are working to launch Egypt’s national strategy on education, however, I am concerned that society may not accept any radical changes in the educational system, so I urge Egyptians to know that accepting reforms will not come without a price,” Al-Sisi said.
 
During the second session, Al-Sisi blamed the media for behaving in an irresponsible manner on national security issues.

In the second session participants discussed the government’s economic reform plan and the current situation.
 
Al-Sisi said that after the 25 January Revolution of 2011 “imports covered 60 to 70 per cent of our basic needs, and this required dollars, which taxed our dollar reserves, in addition to the drop in tourism and export revenues caused by the aftermath of the revolution”.
 
“Over the last 18 months we witnessed a rapid improvement in the banking sector, investment climate and increase in non-oil exports,” Minister of Finance Amr Al-Garhi said.
 
He added that postponing economic reforms had a strong, negative impact on the country’s foreign reserve and the stability of the macroeconomic situation.
 
The president also expressed his confidence in the Egyptian people whom he said rejected calls to take to the streets on 11 November in protest at the surge in prices.
“I had no doubt regarding the response of the Egyptian people. We started the road to reform, and we wish success from God.”

An initiative was launched to support Moushira Khattab, the Egyptian nominee for UNESCO director general.

“I support the nomination of Ambassador Moushira Khattab to UNESCO, and I call on all Egyptians to support her,” Al-Sisi said on his Facebook account.

The president also presented the Innovation Award to Mona Al-Sayed Ibrahim, known as the “cart girl,” in recognition of her job as a cart wheeler. Last month, Al-Sisi received Ibrahim at the presidential palace after a photo circulated on social media of her on the job. The president praised her efforts and offered her family an apartment.

Early in November a photo of Ibrahim pulling a heavy cart in Alexandria loaded with merchandise went viral on social media, prompting sympathy with her.
 
Some public figures who attended the dialogue told Al-Ahram Weekly that having such a meeting reinforced the government’s confidence in youths and in dialogue as a method for change.
 
“It is a great opportunity to listen to what youth think about the government’s policies in different fronts and at the same time giving them accurate information about what is happening,” said Tarek Fahmi, a professor of political science at Cairo University who attended Saturday’s meeting.
 
Fahmi said the next step would be to increase the role of young people in government by training and appointing them to senior levels close to the decision makers.

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