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How can young voices be heard?

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

From where I see it, British politicians seem to care less and less about representing the views of young people. Those of us below the age of eighteen are simply neglected by the powers that be.

A telling example of this would be Mrs May’s desire to go back to an archaic education regime. I would argue that it not only shows an obvious misunderstanding of the principles behind a good school system, but also more importantly reinforces a lack of connection with students and young people alike.

The idea of resurrecting grammar schools has, unfortunately, been met by rampant enthusiasm amongst a large portion of the Conservative party. Meanwhile the majority of students and teachers – the industry experts – see the move as dangerous and an unnecessary risk.

Perhaps, it should be asked who this change is actually being made for?

I personally can imagine nothing worse than having my future dictated to me at the mere age of eleven. At that age I only cared about football scores, not test scores. The proposed system quite simply rules out too many too soon.

The views of the young were also neglected last June, with the UK’s decision to leave the EU. While it is likely that the votes people my age cast would not have been enough to change the overall outcome of the vote, at least it would have ticked the box of representation.

Surely it would have made some sense for my generation to have a say in the controversy, given that we are the ones that will have to live with the decision for the longest.

Another issue many young people have particularly strong views about is the environment and helping to preserve the world around us.

Desire amongst teenagers, like myself, for a government with a green thumb have unfortunately been met by a regime that have slashed subsidies on solar and wind power and one that have legalised fracking on vulnerable sites of special scientific interest.

At times it can seem like my generation is completely powerless when it comes to influencing government action. But does it really have to be like this?

One solution to this matter would be giving young people the right to vote. This would mean that certain political parties who refuse to address the concerns of my age group could suffer on election day. However, given the underwhelming turnout amongst younger voters, impacts could be rather minimal.

Perhaps another way that people my age could influence mainstream politics is through social media. Given how easy it is to share information nowadays, networks like Facebook and Twitter could surely be the ultimate tool for finding politically like-minded individuals, arranging protest movements and spreading e-petitions.

The next generation of politicians and activists are already out there, and are eager to make their views heard.

As individuals, our complaints and Facebook rants often feel irrelevant. But with better organisation and fully deploying the assets social media provides, maybe we can make a difference.

-- Patrick Gembis is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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