Coleraine’s 6th Formers Unite

Candidates in the forthcoming Assembly elections bravely agreed to face some forthright critics – the voters of tomorrow.  The Integrated Education Fund has formed a partnership with Public Achievement to host a number of youth conferences with the theme ELECTING OUR FUTURE, where young people can put their questions to the Assembly candidates standing in their constituency for the elections in May.

The first event was staged at Coleraine on Friday 4th March. Students from Coleraine College, Coleraine Inst, North Coast Integrated College, St. Joseph’s College, Coleraine High, St. Dominicans and Sandelford Special School worked together in workshops to determine common issues that were important to them.  The young people then put their questions to the politicians on a one to one basis and the event ended with a panel debate. The event was chaired by BBC Presenter and Journalist, Jim Fitzpatrick.

This event brought young people together from local schools from different educational sectors giving them the opportunity to make sense of and voice their thoughts and opinions on subjects that matter to them including education, jobs, policing, community safety, shared society and tuition fees.  Declan Brolly, Head of History at Dominican College Portstewart said,  “Our students found it a very worthwhile exercise. The issues discussed were all relevant and often thought provoking.  Our local politicians may perhaps reflect on the value of hearing young people’s views and aim to keep closer links with all schools.”

So many decisions are made on behalf of young people but how often are they actually consulted on the matters that directly impact upon them?  As a result the Integrated Education Fund and Public Achievement are giving young people the opportunity to question the Assembly candidates standing in their constituency for the May elections.

The next events in the “Electing our Future” series are scheduled for Magherafelt (24 March) and Lisburn (31 March).