Youth and the Promotion of Culture and National Identity, the Role of Universities, the Media, and Non-Governmental Youth Organizations…. A Dialogue Session at Damascus University

A dialogue session was held at Damascus University entitled “Youth and the Promotion of Culture and National Identity, the Role of Universities, Media, and Non-Governmental Youth Organizations,” organized by the National Union of Syrian Students.


Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Professor Dr. Bassam Ibrahim, explained during his participation in the session that national identity is one of the most important characteristics of the State, and through it; stability and belonging to the homeland are achieved. It is the incubator for all components and groups of society, regardless of the diversity of their cultures, sects, and the geographical regions to which they belong, and it always remains a guarantee to achieve social justice in the country.


Prof. Dr. Ibrahim confirmed that Syrian universities and educational and scientific institutions do not limit their national role to teaching, learning and scientific research only, but hey must rather contribute to holding dialogue seminars aimed at promoting culture, dialogue and volunteerism among students, and this has been observed through their plans and curricula leading to holding research seminars on a permanent basis especially in some specialized faculties (Media, Education, Law, Arts and Humanities). He also encouraged university professors to devote part of their lectures to this important topic, pointing out that the highest manifestations of national belonging and adherence to national identity are embodied in having harmony between duties and rights.


Minister Ibrahim emphasized the necessity of working to create a social spirit through cultural and sporting activities, directing students towards sound social principles, work and production, combating negative things, whether in universities or outside, and teaching them behavioral and moral education in order to maintain the halls, auditoriums and laboratories within their universities in addition to other behaviors that enhance belonging. He stressed that the National Union of Syrian Students is a real partner in these issues, and the media also has a major role in light of the challenges of intellectual cultural invasion imposed by the accelerating technology and communication revolution.


Minister of Information, Professor Dr. Boutros Hallaq, pointed out the basic role of the media in strengthening the national identity, stressing that the Ministry seeks media work to be systematic with regard to the national identity, so that it is built on an integrated strategy with partners in the rest of the institutions, especially the educational institutions, in light of the dominance of globalization and its tools and targeted control on the national identity and its impact on young people and changing their behaviors, which is manifested in cognitive chaos and cultural and intellectual alienation. 


Minister of Information said that the world is living under the dominance of social media and its pages after the decline of traditional media. These pages are controlled by central companies with their own agenda, and they are managed either by professional people or novices. In both cases, they have a negative impact on public opinion, and they pose a threat to national and cultural identity in Syria, stressing that these means cannot be media outlets or be classified among them because they do not belong to a media institution or clear media work, and with regard to electronic media, the media of platforms and Internet networks and their services can be harmonized with traditional media, especially since most newspapers have turned into electronic sites, and the carrier has transformed its contents from paper to an electronic platform.


The President of the National Union of Syrian Students pinpointed that the national identity that is being circulated is not an easy issue, but rather it has challenges and impacts on society and the Syrian reality, as it is old and renewed, appearing today after 13 years of war, noting that the challenges of this identity constitute a state of alienation for university youth at the present time. This occurs through several forms, including immigration and the decline in youth participation in some activities and events, while acknowledging the existence of success stories by university youth, manifested in many activities and events, most notably is the voluntary work carried out by the Union in partnership with the civil society.


Dr. Suleiman stressed the need for serious work and cooperation between the National Union and the rest of the organizations and Unions regarding strengthening the national identity among youth and university students in its cultural, social, economic and political dimensions, by organizing more dialogue and participatory seminars with components of the local community and for the State, with its institutions, to bear the responsibility of formulating a universal national identity and a new social contract, which requires in-depth discussions at the level of all societal groups in Syria. Dr. Suleiman highlighted that dialogue is one of the most important tools for strengthening national identity with the aim of reaching commonalities and features of an ambitious national project.


Dr. Suleiman explained that the Union took upon its shoulders the responsibility to build the student’s personality, as a purposeful national personality with an active role and vision in the society, noting that university students showcased this situation in universities through the opportunities and activities they implemented. She also pointed out the role of the civil society as an essential partner in decision-making at the political level as well as enhancing the values ​​of citizenship based on rights and duties and its vital role in sustainable development, which has become a social need that contributes to the formation and the strengthening of the national identity and belonging.


The dialogue session was attended by the President of Damascus University, Professor Dr. Muhammad Osama Al-Jabban, members of the Executive Office, the head of Damascus University branch of the National Union of Syrian Students, the Deans of the Faculties and Higher Institutes, the heads of administrative bodies in the Faculties, and university students.


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