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Why we need a school for young politicians

From Feb. 17-22, the Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians (KASYP) will be in Manila to conduct its first training workshop for the 10th batch of participants.

The KASYP is a regional program aimed at training young members of political parties in Asia in democratic governance at the local and national levels. The 10th batch coming to Manila has participants from nine countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Mongolia, South Korea, India and Bangladesh. The age range is 25-36; there are 11 females and 8 males.

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KAS aligns with ideologically center-oriented parties in the Philippines. Filipinos in KASYP over the years have mostly come from the Young Centrist Union and a few from the PDP-Laban and the Liberal Party.

The first session will be on “Political Parties, Functions, and Organizations in Democratic Societies.” The second workshop on “Local Governance and Development” will be conducted in August. The third workshop on “Leadership Training in Campaigning” will be conducted in March 2020. The program ends in Germany with a fourth workshop on “Political Party Organization and Local Politics in Germany” in September 2020. The total program runs for 20 days, in four week-long sessions held in four
different countries.

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The KASYP program was actually born in Manila in February 2010. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Regional Program based in Singapore initiated the program with the help of the Ateneo School of Government. The KAS Regional Program has since conducted the school on its own.

The KASYP is a fitting example of how political parties take charge of training their officers and members. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung is the foundation associated with the ruling Christian Democratic Union in Germany. In the case of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the other German political foundations, they share this training function with their associated political parties. The German federal government funds the electorally resonant parties to sustain and develop their party organization, including the projection of their ideologies and programs internationally through their associated foundations. The KASYP is one such program.

I have served as an in-house trainor for the KASYP, running the political party strategy formulation and project management workshops in the first two stages of the training program over the last nine years. I have learned a lot about Asian political parties, their common and peculiar challenges and opportunities, practices and processes, especially in the context of their own, usually urgent and critical, country political dynamics. It has enabled me to imagine what it means to belong to and work within a real political party that has programmatic vision and party discipline.

I feel proud of young politicians from all the participating countries, some of which are aspiring democracies (e.g., Myanmar) and others wizened ones (e.g., India). They exude such an enthusiasm to develop themselves. They are also so collegial and friendly among themselves, as if they are a natural family. Maybe they share the unique situation of politicians—subjected to a mixture of public sentiment at home, maligned and misunderstood one moment and admired and respected in the next.

The other overriding feeling I have is one of envy. The Philippines is the first republic in Asia, yet its political parties are caricatures of real ones. Filipino politicians are no less intelligent, nationalistic, competent, creative than those of other countries, but they think and act as if each was a political party by himself.

To transform our politics, we need schools for young politicians. Filipino political parties should systematically recruit and train young politicians the right way. They must stop politicians from (1) insinuating themselves into politics on the basis primarily of self-interest; (2) modeling themselves after sly and notorious senior politicians; and (3) trying to outdo their seniors in fleecing the nation. In a word, we should stop rapacious politicians from reproducing themselves.

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TAGS: KASYP, Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians, On The Move, political education, school for young politicians, Segundo Eclar Romero
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