Monday, April 5, 2010

The “Uneducated Youth”

In light of the upcoming elections in the UK, the BBC wrote an article on the possible amendment of the current voting age of 18. In 2004, there was discussion of lowering it to 16 years of age, however it was shuffled aside to be dealt with in 5 to 7 years. We are now currently sitting right in the middle of that time span, so the question has surfaced again.  There seems to be positive support on this issue, 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to work, have a family (age of consent in Canada -16), pay taxes and even (Canadian Military recruiting - 17) die for a country and a leader who they will not be able to cast a ballot for. Demos director Richard Reeves of the UK said, “Of the first 100 British soldiers to die in Iraq, at least six were too young to have ever voted in a general election.” This quote made quite an impact on me; at least 6% of fallen British soldiers didn’t have a chance to actively participate in the political process of which they just lost their lives for.
I began to think.
Recently I have been trying to get my head around problems in our society, drawing conclusions and trying to find answers. A common pastime, I am sure.  A rather rash conclusion that the aforementioned brought to me, took me to the trust our government has in its education system. The apparent belief is that we, at 17 years of age, are educated enough to have a family, work, abide by the law, drive a vehicle and partake in military action, however, we are too uneducated to cast a ballot. If there is a prime time for political participation, I feel it is those years right underneath the lawful age. The education system is already educating the youth on the procedures, and platforms (by the teachers code, this must be done in an unbiased way), youth generally show the largest dissatisfaction toward authorities, and are not generally the desired “catered to’s” of the government. So, with the whole ordeal fresh in our fiery minds, who would be best to decide on the future of the country then the generation who have to live in it the longest?
CBC news, “An estimated 59.1 per cent of Canadians cast votes in [the last] general election — a figure that appears to be a record low in the history of Confederation.” Enough said, with two extra years of voters and supporters standing in lines at the poling stations, we may just drag ourselves out of this depressingly apathetic voter turnout. With a cross over of two years between the mandatory education system, and word of politics, we could create a generation of passionate voters and active participators, citizens, which I am ashamed to say, Canada is lacking greatly.