Why it's wrong for politicians to demonise climate-change school strikers – Daniel Johnson

We should be encouraging young people to engage in the political process, says Daniel Johnson (Picture: John Devlin)
We should be encouraging young people to engage in the political process, says Daniel Johnson (Picture: John Devlin)
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Limiting children’s ability to take part in climate change strikes silences their voice and undermines the very values that Curriculum for Excellence is meant to instil, writes Daniel Johnson MSP.

By describing the action taken by young people as nothing better than skipping school, Edinburgh councillor Callum Laidlaw runs the risk of sounding patronising and dismissive of pupils who are simply trying to make their voices heard.

Having met with some of those who took part, I know how passionate they are about this vitally important issue. Seeing the sheer number of those who took part also had a real impact on Holyrood. Numbers matter to parliamentarians.

While Edinburgh council is obviously trying to take a balanced approach, I worry that limiting pupils to one day of strike action a year would stifle their voice.

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You may say the impact on class time and curriculum is too great, but I see no reason why the strikes cannot form part of the learning process. Build lessons around the action taken.

The Curriculum for Excellence is meant to be about helping our young people to engage and become well-rounded individuals willing to be proactive members of society. The strikes and the issue, climate change, fit perfectly within that aim.

My own motion in parliament on the use of Citizens’ Assemblies is a call for innovative approaches to be taken, to look at how we build consensus on tackling climate change.

Instead of demonising those taking part as Cllr Laidlaw has, we should be encouraging our young people to have their say, to push for change when it is called for, and to engage in the political process as they did in March of this year.

Daniel Johnson is Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern