“Young people need political education, not National Service” - Sioned Williams MS

Senedd backs call for political education in Welsh schools

A screenshot of the wording for Sioned Williams' proposal for a Political Education Bill

The Senedd has voted in favour of a proposal for a Political Education Bill in schools and colleges, which was tabled by Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd Sioned Williams.

Ms Williams said there is a “missed opportunity” in the new curriculum, which coincided with 16-17-year olds being given the vote in Wales, to ensure that all learners receive clear and consistent education on politics and the democratic process.

With the Senedd having recently passed historic electoral reforms, Ms Williams says it’s “timely, essential and long overdue” for the Welsh Government to address the fact that voter turnout is consistently below half of the total electorate in Wales for Senedd elections, and that under half of 16-17-year-olds were thought to have registered to vote in the 2021 Senedd elections.

Ms Williams’ proposal was for a Political Education Bill to:

  1. ensure specific education relating to Welsh politics and democracy;
  2. require all schools impart the importance of civic engagement; and
  3. ensure that 16 and 17 year-olds feel more confident and knowledgeable about elections and the purpose and process of casting their vote.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, said:

“Wales has shown that it can lead the way in terms of democracy - it will be the first UK nation to move entirely to using a proportional method to elect members to its Parliament, and we have already secured votes for young people aged sixteen and seventeen in Welsh elections.

“But there’s one factor that threatens to hold us back, and that’s voter turnout, particularly for young people. If we believe in securing the best possible democracy for Wales, we cannot sit back and accept that the number of people who vote to choose their representatives in this Senedd is consistently less than half of the total electorate of Wales.

“We need to take action to change that. And that’s what motivated me to present this proposal before the Senedd, following petitions, reports and concerns raised by young people themselves that there’s a lack of awareness of politics and the democratic process.

“I’m so pleased that my motion was voted through, although disappointed that the Welsh Government abstained. It’s now timely, essential and long overdue for the government to listen and act on these calls, and it’s through the education system that best provides the means to do this.”

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