Students from across Wales shared their views on how Wales and the world can recover from the pandemic in an online Model Parliament.
In this first of its kind event, students from Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr in Cardiff, Westbourne School in Penarth, Ysgol Bryngwyn in Llanelli and Ysgol Y Pant Comprehensive School in Pontyclun, expressed how to be part of a fairer, greener present and future world.
The aim of this ‘Changemakers’ project is to engage students with the ethical citizenship purpose of the new Welsh Curriculum. Changemakers is an opportunity for schools to work together to create change and is an opportunity to support understanding of the current Covid-19 pandemic that we and our young people are going through.
A delegation from Ysgol Plasmawr set out their statement of position by calling for a policy which gives protection to people who get sick as the pandemic continues, including isolation pay and rent protection. They also raised the issue of the ongoing concerns of students in education.
They said: “The education sector has been hit, with schools shut for the majority of the time. Some learners were not able to receive any education which will severely impact the future of these children. We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be fully educated.”
The students then discussed the implications of covid-19 on various issues from poverty to racism.
Students at Ysgol Bryngwyn called for clarity surrounding the current restrictions in the UK. The delegations talked about how family businesses have been hit, how they think the issue of climate change has been cast aside and suggested that more people should be aware of how vital the issue of homelessness is.
They said: “I think more money needs be put in dealing with homelessness, so people are more aware and into facilities such as soup kitchens, and other places where they can stay, so they can feel safe. The government needs to put more money into mental health charities”.
In tackling co-related issues, students discussed about the effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has had over their educational development and how the latter is impacted when it comes to its organization and/or the ways e-learning is implemented.
A representative from Westbourne School said: “Education is a priority and we must focus on mental health and digital resources. Organization is a problem for us because all the homework is due by the same day and sometimes there isn’t enough time.”
In thinking about how they are coping with a possible overlapping of school and leisure time, they all agreed there is a need to create safe and separate spaces to socialize digitally.
As the event came to a close, students received invaluable advice from WCIA trustee and barrister Raphael Esu on how we can all help make a difference.
He said: “Never think you are too young to make a difference. Ensure your reasons for helping the community are for the right reasons. Collaborating with others is very important.”
Students representing Ysgol Y Pant Comprehensive School made some interesting points on the need for values of empathy and respect towards the entire community, and the benefits of projecting those nationally and transnationally.
Global Learning Manager Amber Demetrius praised the students for their hard work during the event and said: “Thank you to all the students for your valuable contribution and for the hard work you all did in preparation for the event. I look forward to seeing your projects and celebrating achievements when we all meet again in June.”
The ChangeMakers project is part of the British Council’s International Education Programme funded by the Welsh Government.