Yousry El Koumy

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Yousry El Koumy was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Yousry is creating a positive shift in the minds of Egyptian children and youth, so that they may become accepting of and tolerant towards each other. He is building a new generation of future by spreading a culture of tolerance and acceptance amongst them so that they can diffuse the message through personal interactions with others in society. Given Egypt’s diversity and the current political climate, it is imperative that a new approach for dialogue is created and implemented.

For nearly ten years, Yousry has been educating young people about this culture of tolerance by addressing subjects relating to civic education, debate, citizenship, and cross-sector understanding, all based on universal human rights principles. His goal is for young people to act tolerantly without effort, so that their thoughts and actions become instinctual and free of references to social, economic, political and religious stereotypes. At a time when most others have stopped working on civic education, Yousry has continued to tackle this problem with an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of urgency given the high stakes at hand.

Yousry’s inclusive model of tolerance targets the people, organizations and laws that are capable of creating and promoting a culture of acceptance. Yousry is focused on changing the mindset of young students (12 to 18-years-old) in schools and youth centers during their formative years, while other organizations only work on older age groups, ensures that they grow into more tolerant adults and active citizens. By transforming their mindset early on, he creates informed future leaders to act as messengers in various fields of work later on. Using the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives young people a framework to base their way of thinking and view of the world on, instead of only being equipped with cultural and religious ideologies.

Yousry also works with citizens organizations (COs) to train staff on ideas of tolerance and acceptance, so they are able to disseminate the message to their communities. After the children graduate from high school, they receive a different curriculum that is well suited and engaging for young adults aged 18 to 30, particularly those studying or working in media and law, so they can broadcast the same message of tolerance and acceptance through appropriate channels. In addition, Yousry has started engaging in dialogue with religious institutions, both Christian and Muslim, to integrate tolerance and acceptance in religion classes in Al Azhar University and Church Sunday schools. Finally, Yousry is actively working with pressure groups and advocacy campaigns to change the legal landscape of Egypt, facilitating an environment free of discriminatory laws and regulations.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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