Monday 17 June 2019

Students voice their political concerns

Enniscorthy Vocational College students Ethan Walsh, Saoirse Crofts, Gintare Povilaityte and Stephen McGannon
Enniscorthy Vocational College students Ethan Walsh, Saoirse Crofts, Gintare Povilaityte and Stephen McGannon

Brendan Keane

Students in Enniscorthy Vocational College have expressed concern at what they feel is a disconnect between politicians and the concerns of young people.

Speaking to this newspaper four of the students in the school, Ethan Walsh (17), Gintare Povilaityte (18), Saoirse Crofts (17) and Stephen McGannon (18), said there are a number of issues that need to be addressed by politicians.

Significantly, when asked could they name any of the candidates running for election in the county the students identified five.

There are 66 candidates running and the students said lack of communication is an issue that needs to be addressed.

'None of the candidates actually came into the school,' said Ethan.

'I am eligible to vote but I wouldn't know any of the candidates at all,' said Gintare.

She feels there is definitely a disconnect between politicians and a lack of understanding on their part, of the needs of young people.

It's a view that was shared by the other students.

'There is definitely a lack of facilities for young people here,' said Ethan.

While he himself is a keen sports enthusiast he said for people who aren't into sport there are not many options available.

'I think that's why some young people just hang around smoking and not really doing anything,' he said.

'I like going for walks with my friends but there is an issue with transport,' said Gintare.

She highlighted the fact that she could get a bus from Enniscorthy to Dublin or Wexford relatively easy but there is not an appropriate transport scheme to rural parts of the county from main urban areas.

'There are some schemes in place but it needs to be better,' she said.

The pupils feel that changes should be implemented within the education system too and that more should be done to help pupils transfer from primary education to secondary.

'I don't think subjects are explained well enough when you go into secondary school,' said Gintare.

'Subjects like home economics and budgeting should also be made mandatory,' she added.

Her views were shared by the others with Saoirse commenting: 'More life skill subjects should be taught in school. There are subjects that people might like to do if they knew more about them or if they were explained better.'

'There is definitely more that could be done to help the transfer from primary school to secondary,' said Saoirse.

'The subjects you do from First to Third year influence what you will do in Fifth and Sixth years,' she added.

'When you are 12 or 13 you do not think it's important to know business studies so maybe it could be explained better at that point,' added Gintare.

The students were unanimous in the view that the education system needs to adapt in a way that provides pupils with more practical lifeskills when they leave school.

With regard to the election itself the students feel the candidates could do much more to increase their profile and that they should meet with pupils.

'I am a person who could go out an vote but I have no idea who I am voting for,' said Gintare.

'The candidates should come into the school,' she added.

Mental health is an area the students feel that much more could be done for at political level.

They feel that mandatory changes need to be implemented to ensure that schools administer mental health programmes rather than it being left up to schools themselves to implement initiatives.

'A mental health programme in schools should be mandatory from the department [of Education],' said Gintare.

The pupils also feel sexual education is something that needs to be addressed in schools and in terms of assessment they said too much emphasis is placed on traditional subjects.

'There should be more of a focus on subjects that will get you through life rather than the traditional subjects,' said Gintare.

The students also feel topics like insurance for young people needs to be addressed at Government level.

'I got a quote for insurance that was around €6,000,' said Stephen.

'The car doesn't cost near as much as the insurance and that's not right,' he added.

Stephen also said that at local level the condition of roads is terrible.

'Where I'm from, in Caim, you would need to carry the car on your back because of the state of the roads,' he said.

Ethan also said it was unfair that all young people get tarred with the same brush when it comes to road safety.

'Politicians are not in tune with young people,' said Stephen.

'When would you ever see a politician in a school, never,' he added.

'Politicians say vote for me but they don't explain why we should. They depend on an older generation to vote for them.'

Saoirse feels candidates are missing out in a number of ways by not engaging with young people more.

'We are on social media and we can get their message out there but we can't if we don't know what that message is.'

The students also feel Enniscorthy is a town that has been left behind by politicians in general.

'There's not much to do here for young people,' said Stephen.

'It's just charity shops, chippers and bookies and a few other shops but that's it.'

'Enniscorthy is an older generation town,' said Gintare.

'It's not a town for young people.'

They also don't hold out much hope of living and working locally as they get older although Stephen is hoping to pursue mechanical engineering and is hopeful of eventually getting employment in Wexford.

However, Gintare has resigned herself to moving abroad to pursue her interest in interior design while Saoirse hopes to become a midwife.

Ethan has his sights set on joinery and carpentry but feels he will have to go to Dublin to get an apprenticeship and then return to Co Wexford when qualified.

Gender equality in employment is something that Saoirse feels passionately about and she said there needs to be pay parity between male and female.

Ethan and Stephen also raised the point that all career options should be open to everyone regardless of whether they are male or female.

In general terms global issues are among the things that young people feel should be address more adequately by politicians at all levels.

'Global warming is a big issue and everything is going in that direction,' said Gintare, while Saoirse added: 'We are the ones it will affect the most.'

'There should not just be a tax on coal, it should be banned completely and more focus should be placed on renewable energy alternatives,' said Gintare.

The students said that by not engaging with people their age politicians are missing out and that needs to be addressed.

Enniscorthy Guardian