Youssef Tlili, Tunisian Ministry of Education
The quality of a citizen is acquired by the individual under dictatorships at the cost of struggles, sometimes violent, sometimes bloody, but ultimately it is the cornerstone of every political system that triumphs by imposing its will to be a citizen. But this instinctive ambition to be a citizen must be reinforced, even maintained, sculpted even in that which makes the human being a free being, his character, for the quality of citizen far from being natural, is acquired. And it is in this spirit that it is very important that the efforts of the Democrats and the free people combine in the hope of spreading the democratic culture by raising awareness of their rights and duties and the necessary interactions with their environments, the mechanisms involved. Whether in the form of a state organ or, above all, associations, the preservation of freedom is the only way to sustain the effort to be and remain a citizen, and perhaps civic education Speakers already mentioned is one of the best ways to achieve this. For that, I can only congratulate you on the effort you are making, by combining your efforts, your experience, your means, your knowledge and your know-how in this formidable adventure, the Arab network of Civic education, to disseminate, strengthen, raise awareness, make known to the men and women of this region of the world, our shared values of freedom, democracy, peace, equality and justice. I can only wish for success in this endeavor, for success depends only on the will and the commitment of those who believe in it.
Nelly Corbel, NACE member
My engagement in NACE took its root in my participation in NECE, which inspired all of us, southern colleagues, thirsty for advancing civic education in a transitioning Environment. Back in 2012, NECE for the first time, brought on board a number of participants from the South Mediterranean, which I had the pleasure to be part of. These vibrant times which followed the Arab Spring were full of hopes and fears with developments happening every day. I vividly remember when a disturbing presidential decree was issued in Egypt on the second day of the conference. This news took over the attention of the Southern delegation who was passionately debating the consequences of this decree. Unlike most conference organizers I have come across, NECE offered to shift the schedule to integrate an information session on the topic and bring these sides, but critical debates from the coffee break to the plenary. From this day, NECE became a home for many of us, who found in it a safe and understanding space to focus on civic education, an invaluable resource for civic actors working under difficult conditions. Many of the Southern participants met for the first time during this conference and were able to discuss in peace important topics impacting their work, which led to a number of partnerships between Arab countries and to the idea of building NACE together. In the last 5 years working with NACE and NECE in various capacities, I have come to appreciate its different facets and its methods for evolution. NACE thrived to develop its own model while keeping a similar ethos, which I would describe as: A participatory and diverse platform for collective reflection around civic education issues beyond borders, in order to build cooperations around opportunities and challenges in the field. Since 2012 and the establishment of a working focus group, NACE was always a goal, keeping the above ethos while establishing a southern sister network. Building an emerging sector can be paralleled to building a new village. For the new village to function, one needs to build from the ground a number of infrastructures on which the upcoming constructions can rely on for a smooth functioning. Therefore, the working group rolled up their sleeves to start building these infrastructures, getting as many on board as possible. After endless research meetings, number of projects, heated debated, a conference and countless convenings, NACE -an idea- finally become a possibility in 2015. Since then, our group of volunteers, driven by the deeply ingrained belief civic education was the road to peace and development, worked towards launching NACE at the second civic education conference in 2016, which took place in Tunisia. Now NACE is strong of a vibrant Advisory Board and Steering Committee conducting research and project. A dream slowly coming to a reality. The road ahead of us is still long and only through our collective engagement, bringing colleagues from the region together around the cause of civic education for a diverse, peaceful and economically dynamic society will we thrive.