24 young professionals were selected in January and started the session in February. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 lockdown changed the planned monthly activities from March onwards - and the group experiences had to move online.
With the decision of the organizers to switch the program into the virtual reality, the participants were able to continue their journey of learning more about citizenship, good governance, and social protection. In additional to all the planned sessions, soft skills were also trained over the course of the YCTP program. Nevertheless, the modification brought few challenges such as internet connectivity problems and new digital learning experiences.
The YCTP Rwanda has been established for the first time in 2020.
The participants have been selected from various background such as: Rwandan trade unions, civil society organizations, Universities, Ministries, Media, and the private sector. All selected candidates agreed to attend the nine-month course.
Initially, it was planned that they meet every 3 - 5 weeks in Kigali for up to 4 days workshops on specific topics all over the year. Each session also aims to increase their leadership skills by a combination of theoretical knowledge and the exchange of practical experience.
The YCTP Rwanda has in addition the objective to bring national, regional, and international experts together with the young citizens of the program and serve as a platform for knowledge, dialogue, and exchange between various actors.
The FES and the speakers have planned the program as an interactive and participatory way of understanding the ongoing challenges of the world of today.
Moving the entire program into the digital world was one of the most difficult decisions in 2020 - at the end of the program, seven sessions were held online. All planned topics were discussed like Ethics & Citizenship / Good Governance & Good Practices / Decent Work & Social Protection / Climate Change & Global Trends / Sustainable Development & Inclusive Economic Transformation / Foreign Policy & Regional Integration and various soft skill trainings.
All FES partners contributed significantly to the implementation of the first cohort of YCTP Rwanda. It is very important to mention that speakers came from the whole range of field and sectors such as academia, trade unions, civil servants and went beyond to accommodate members of parliament, former Ministers, currently permanent secretaries of different Ministries alongside entrepreneurs to inspire their generation of young leaders.
The YCTP during COVID-19 restrictions
The participants and the FES had to deal with virtual aspects of the “new normal” and both partners had to deal with questions like: How could we guarantee that the internet approach is still inclusive and not excluding the participants and speakers? How to manage power cuts and the fact that not all regions have the same good internet connection as in the capital Kigali? How to guarantee that the program is still interesting and that all participants have the same conditions to interact and to be involved in the discussions? Some of the participants were facing financial challenges, others lost their jobs and had to deal with family financial problems. Nevertheless, all of them stayed engaged and tried their best to follow the program and the different individual sessions.
The general content transfer of the program was another challenge - and the group dynamic was sometimes different than expected. Luckily, the YCTP lead consultant, Maja, was always able to engage the group by using various techniques in interacting with them.
End of October 2020, the first cohort of the “YCTP Rwanda” received their certificates and successfully completed their journey with the FES Rwanda.
We hope that all former participants, who all became now YCTP Alumni, continue to support the Rwandan development and that they all stay engaged in their respective communities, organizations or workplaces.
The FES Rwanda is already looking forward to the upcoming year and a new YCTP2021 in Rwanda.