Responding to a recent Comment article, Ellie Chesshire argues that political apathy in young people stems from education rather than the world of politics itself.
An article was recently published in Epigram discussing why the younger generation appear to be so politically apathetic. The article concluded that the young had no one to believe and no one to listen to them, leading them to become disillusioned with politics and the benefits it may bring them. While this argument is valid in some ways, I believe it goes further than this. One of the main issues with young people and politics is that they do not know enough about it. It is very difficult to become passionate about something when you do not know how the system works or what each political party stands for.
The subject of politics is not taught as part of the national curriculum meaning that the only way for young people to study it is by selecting it as an optional unit, normally for A Levels – few schools offer it as a GCSE. In the school year of 2015/2016, 131,000 young people under the age of 19 left school to pursue apprenticeships, meaning that they had no access to any teaching on politics for their entire school career.
Politics should be a compulsory GCSE along with English, Maths, and Science. Education reduces apathy and develops the next leaders.
— Jacob Hatch (@Jacob_Hatch00) February 3, 2017
The very fact that politics is not easily accessible for young people to study means that most people leave school and turn 18 with no idea how the system really works. If the basics of politics became a compulsory subject for young people in secondary school, then everyone would have a basic understanding of which political party they want to vote for when elections roll around. How can we expect young people to vote when they don’t know who they are voting for?
It would seem that studying politics is as important as teaching science or maths. Politics affects everything that happens around the world and it is vitally important that young people understand why voting is so important and what it changes or affects.
Even with the recent EU referendum, the biggest thing to happen in politics in a long time, only 64 per cent of young people voted. Over 70 per cent of these voted to stay in the EU. If more young people had decided to vote then there is a chance that the referendum result could have been different.
Arguably a better education in politics could have changed this, some young people chose not to vote and many more to follow the opinion of their parents because they didn’t really understand what they were voting for. Education is the key to progression in society and in a time when understanding and getting involved in politics is so important, it is vital that young people get educated on the basics.
‘If more people understood and were educated in politics, then young people would have more incentive to fight for what they believe it and what they want’
Political apathy in young people is a big problem in Britain today and something that must be addressed. It is certainly true that many young people feel disillusioned with politics at the moment, that they feel there is no one to listen to them. If more people understood and were educated in politics, then young people would have more incentive to fight for what they believe in and what they want. And not only that, they would then know how to get involved in politics and how to make your voice heard.
Surely the only way to do this is through education so that hopefully future generations will not have the same political apathy because they will understand and want to get involved in politics.
What do you put political apathy in young people down to? Let us know via the comments or social media.