Member of the Welsh Parliament for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Angela Burns MS, used a question to the First Minister this week in the Senedd to call for schools to be required to undertake lessons on politics.
Next Year’s Senedd elections will see 16 and 17 year olds able to vote, but there remains no onus on schools to carry out Political Education lessons to provide pupils with an understanding of the importance of their vote.
Angela asked the First Minister for a commitment to enshrine political education into the curriculum to ensure that our young people are empowered to make informed political choices as they enter into adulthood.
The First Minister in his response said it was the responsibility of individual schools to introduce such lessons and refused to make them compulsory.
Commenting Angela said
“I am frustrated that the Welsh Government do no see fit to enshrine the requirement to teach politics to pupils across Wales, a call supported by the Electoral Reform Society, instead passing responsibility back to schools.
“With the extension of the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds next year, it is vital that young people understand that politics is more than just putting a cross in the box, but understanding what change that cross can effect. Schools face many conflicting challenges and requirements and by refusing to make political lessons compulsory risks pupils passing through different schools, with different understanding of the importance of politics.
“Whilst we all have a responsibility to engage with constituents of all ages, turnout in past Welsh General Election’s and recent polling shows the lack of understanding that voters have surrounding the responsibilities of different layers of Government in Wales. By teaching pupils about politics, then we could help address this confusion and reinforce the importance that politics plays in everyone’s lives.
“I am concerned that a party that has been in power for over a 5th of a century in Wales is not open to helping our nations young to develop a fuller understanding of politics. Our young people need to be empowered to realise their potential and I feel that the First Minsters comments today just prove that his party is not able to help this happen.”