After an impressive debate in the House of Commons, the UK Youth Parliament, consisting of 11-18 year olds who have been elected in their constituencies, voted that their campaign for the coming year would be ‘A Curriculum for Life’ – described on the UKYP website with the paragraph: “We believe the national curriculum should be radically overhauled through a youth-led review that helps develop young people’s political knowledge, better sex and relationship education, cultural awareness, community cohesion, finance skills and sustainable living.” ‘A Curriculum for Life’ beat four other campaign ideas: Make Public transport Cheaper, Better and Accessible to All; Getting Ready for Work; An Equal National Minimum Wage for All and Marriage for All.
MYP for Hillingdon, Soila Apparicio, answered James Tennent’s questions on the new campaign:
- Why vote for ‘A Curriculum for Life’ instead of the other campaigns brought forward?I believe that education is the most important and valuable service that people have access to. In modern days, young people do not have the opportunity to learn about essential aspects of adult life that prepare them for the world beyond school, particularly in these hard times where education and experience are much needed to progress in society. Many young people I represent agree that they want to be prepared for working life before they leave school. People spend over 12 years in compulsory education, yet leave school lacking the basic knowledge that enables them to fully participate in the community that they live in. This campaign also has an impact on ALL young people in this country, unlike some of the other campaigns. It encourages young people to take part in other debates.
2. Do you not think that backing equal marriage, as the government has done, might have given the UKYP added legitimacy?
UKYP already supports equal marriage in its manifesto and is pleased that the government is pushing for it. As was discussed in the House of Commons last November, despite this being a positive thing for society as a whole, this campaign did not seem to be as necessary as the Curriculum for Life campaign. Of course, many young people made clear that they do not want to live in an unfair and unequal society, and they will continue to work to achieve equal marriage for all.
3. Would making public transport cheaper and more accessible not have helped students get to schools in the first place?
The transport campaign was UKYP’s campaign last year, although there is still a lot of work to be done. It was much harder to push this campaign in London because in comparison with other parts of Britain, we have very good transport services (although there is always room for improvement). This remains a very big issue for many young people, and no doubt UKYP will still campaign for better transport services.
4. What do you say to people who think sex education and cultural awareness should be taught by the parents and are none of the state’s business?
Young people need a well-rounded and wide cultural awareness. Parents may not teach certain things because they may not want to or aren’t knowledgeable themselves. Schools teach students about the world around them and Sex Education and Community Awareness are just as important as everything else. It can also be better because students can talk about what they have learnt amongst themselves, which may be more helpful.
5. What are you doing in your constituency to further this campaign?
We have already emailed all schools in Hillingdon to sign a UKYP pledge in support of the campaign, which so far has been very successful. The majority of our secondary schools are becoming academies, making the task more difficult but we have had positive feedback because many people believe that young people should have a curriculum that prepares them for life. We are also contacting our three MPs, one of whom has already signed their support in Parliament.
6. Do you think you’ll want to pursue a political career in the future?
I definitely hope to. There are many ways in which I want to positively and progressively change society and I want to put my efforts into doing so. I enjoy analysing and writing about politics and see myself working in the political world in one way or another.