In total, 2684 college and university students participated in mock elections. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

The Central Election Commission, together with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic, organized an election simulation for students to increase interest and explain the electoral process.

Yesterday, the Central Election Commission (CEC) together with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic, with financing of Switzerland and Japan and support from UNDP and UNICEF, conducted elections simulations in 26 primary vocational schools and Universities across the country with the participation of 2684 between 15 and 21 years old students to increase the interest of youth in electoral processes, improve their practical knowledge as voters, and to familiarize them with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Mock elections were held simultaneously at 26 colleges/universities of Kyrgyzstan, including Osh city. Photo: Umotbai uulu Dastan / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

According to the Central Election Commission, almost 33% of voters are youth in the age group between 18 and 30, while about 40% of young eligible voters do not participate in elections.  

During these mock elections, students chose one of 17 sustainable development goals. Elections simulation is a way to raise young people’s interest in voting and start acquiring the habit of voting in elections and embrace democratic values.

Organizing elections simulations in schools ahead of local elections scheduled for 11 April 2021 is an excellent opportunity for young people to learn how to participate in voting and allow them to test all the equipment and act as voters for the first time. More than 70 UNICEF volunteers are providing assistance to organize the elections simulation.

Mrs Nurzhan Shaildabekova, Chair of the Central Elections Commission of the Kyrgyz Republic together with students. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

The Chairperson of the Central Election Commission Nurzhan Shaildabekova emphasized: “The active participation of youth in elections is very important because youth play a huge role in the development of the country; it is the youth that is the future of Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, it is important for the youth to take an active part in voting, increase their knowledge of voting procedures, and electoral process in order to make an informed, free and responsible choice".

The choice of the youth voting topic was not accidental. On 1 January 2016, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were put into effect.  SDGs were set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders at the historic United Nations Summit in September 2015.

In her speech, Anne Moulin, the Deputy Head of the Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Kyrgyz Republic emphasized: “Civic education plays a very important role in the development of democracy, since it allows to provide not only knowledge, but also to form values ​​that are fundamental for the democratic development of the country. Studies have shown that the earlier one starts to vote, the more active he/she is in civic participation in the political life of the country. ”. 

Anne Moulin, the Deputy Head of the Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Kyrgyz Republic. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Minori Shimizu, Attaché of the Embassy of Japan in the Kyrgyz Republic, who spoke on behalf of Ambassador of Japan Shigeki Maeda, also commended this initiative:  “Democracy, and the freedoms and rights guaranteed by democracy, are not naturally given and stable. They are based on the constant efforts of the people, and holding fair elections is one of the efforts required of the people. Please remember that the freedoms and rights provided by democracy must be used to improve society. I congratulate you on today's mock election event, which will be your debut as a member of the democratic society, and I wish you all the best in contributing to the sustainable development of Kyrgyzstan’s democracy.”

Minori Shimizu, Attaché of the Embassy of Japan in the Kyrgyz Republic. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

“It is very important for youth to participate in achieving sustainable development goals and for young people to know these goals and understand and can realize their role and potential in the strive to achieve them. Today's simulation allows us, on the one hand, to familiarize the youth with the sustainable development goals, and on the other hand, to demonstrate how real elections are held at the polling station and train youth to be active and responsible young voters”, said Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic

Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

In her turn, the Representative of UNICEF in the Kyrgyz Republic Christine Jaulmes emphasized: “This simulation made it possible for the youth who are UNICEF volunteers to act as election organizers, demonstrate their leadership qualities and help their peers to learn about elections and voting system. It is especially gratifying that the volunteers played a key role in social media coverage of the event, allowing children from all over the country to observe voting in other primary vocational schools, as well as to educate them on sustainable development goals”.

Christine Jaulmes, Representative of UNICEF in the Kyrgyz Republic. Photo: Rustem Iliasov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Snapshots from mock elections

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Photo: Rustem Iliasov, Umotbai uulu Dastan / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

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