HELEN Mary Jones has backed the findings of a report calling for young people’s voices to be heard by public bodies.
The Plaid Cymru Assembly Member met with pupils from Bryngwyn and Glan y Mor schools in Llanelli at the launch of the report in Cardiff Bay.
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Affairs, Plaid Cymru Mid and West Wales AM Helen Mary Jones said:
“I support recommendations in our voices heard particularly the call for statutory political education lessons.
“We cannot wait for this before the introduction of a new national curriculum because young people need to develop their political understanding now.”
Nearly 200 young people were asked their views on political education as part of the ‘Our Voices’ project coordinated by ERS Cymru.
It comes at a crucial time for young people in Wales, with 16 and 17-year-olds set to be given the right to vote in Assembly and local elections, alongside ongoing reform of the curriculum.
Following engagement with pupils across Wales , ERS Cymru distilled their calls into seven recommendations, which are:
- Statutory lessons on the basics of our democracy
- An independent ‘toolbox’ to help teachers deliver these sessions in an engaging and non-partisan way
- The need for time to discuss and debate current affairs in the school day
- Closer contact between schools and elected politicians
- A national mock election, running at the same time as the Assembly elections, where young people would be able to ‘practice’ voting and discuss their local candidates.
- The need for ‘real life’ lessons like paying bills, registering to vote and information on taxes to be taught
- An online resource being made available at election time to give better insight into the candidates standing
Commenting, Jess Blair, ERS Cymru Director said:
“In this time of political flux we should not forget that young people are some of the most important stakeholders.
“The Our Voices Heard project has shown without doubt that there is an appetite for knowing more about politics among young people in Wales.
“The seven recommendations come directly from young people across Wales, the first cohort who will be able to vote at 16 and 17. These suggestions are from the people that know their own education best – and show a need for a stronger structure for political education.
“These recommendations could prove to be a gamechanger to the way young people learn and understand politics, preparing them to be active participants in a democracy that is more participative and vibrant – and in turn improving and energising the political debate across Wales.
“We hope that the Welsh Government seriously consider these suggestions, and put them at the centre of plans to reform our democracy and education system. They are both from and forWales’ young people.”