More pupils become Young Citizen Advocates

Young people in Scottish secondary schools are being encouraged to focus on global issues ahead of the Year of Young People in 2018, through IDEAS’ Young Citizen Advocates series of events.

Having launched with a successful flagship event back in June, two more events took place in the last month in different parts of Scotland that focussed on global citizenship education in different ways, engaging some 300 secondary school pupils from at least eight different local authorities.

The first event took place at Ellon Academy and was organised by Aberdeen for a Fairer World / Montgomery Development Education Centre in collaboration with Aberdeen Science Centre.

This event featured a range of guests who were experts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and older secondary pupils attended to find out more about how science can contribute to the achievement of the Global Goals for a more sustainable, fair world.

Professor Sir Hugh Pennington, the eminent bacteriologist, was the key speaker alongside highly qualified and experienced representatives from the worlds of soil science, mechanical engineering, nutritional science, oil & gas engineering, renewable energy and marine science.

A total of 131 young people along with 20 staff representing 7 different secondary schools attended the event.

One depute head teacher from an Aberdeenshire secondary school praised the format of the event stating “this is an excellent way in which to engage STEM Faculties with the Learning for Sustainability agenda”.

Another Young Citizen Advocates event took place at Airdrie Town Hall, organised by the Conforti Institute, and took the form of a Modern Studies Conference, with the theme of International Development.

Michael Canning of the Conforti Institute explained: "We wanted to offer young people something both relevant and of interest to them as well as complementing their Modern Studies syllabus.”

The day consisted of using case studies from the new Christian Aid/Oxfam Fair Enough resource and this was complemented in the afternoon by a session and Q & A featuring staff from the Department of International Development (DFID).

One teacher from St Rochs in Glasgow said that the YCA event in Airdrie was an “Excellent event for our pupils and very relevant to being a Global Citizen - the activities helped put the Global Goals into context”. Another teacher said: “Mixing with students from other schools encourages our young people to be open to new ideas whilst questioning their own attitudes. It gives them a sense of their responsibility to be active, global citizens.”

Three Young Citizen Advocates events have now taken place, with a residential event planned for later this year. Each event has finished with every school signing a pledge to take action on one or more of the Global Goals, and these pledges will be followed up in due course.

They cover a range of themes, with one school in particular developing strong plans for the development of pupil peer support groups, and others looking at themes from gender equality to access to feminine health products.