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Renewed calls for politics to become part of the school curriculum

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It has long been a topic of debate whether politics should be a compulsory part of the schooling system's curriculum.

However, with no real support from anyone in Parliament, the argument has never really made progress. That is up until recently, however, when the independent news platform, Shout Out UK, released the first version of their ‘Political Literacy’ programme in January 2016.

Now, with an online version of the course set to be available this coming September, we spoke to Shout Out UK’s founder Matteo Bergamini about what the course could mean for politics in education going forward.

On the current state of politics in education, Bergamini was less than impressed, stating that “the problem itself is that we have no political education in this country whatsoever.”

Bergamini, went on to explain that it is “lunacy” expecting people “when they hit 18, to suddenly have all the knowledge they need to actively engage in society,” particularly when it comes to decision such as Brexit.

“You wouldn’t take someone who’s never studied maths before and dump them into an accountancy firm and expect them to do well, and that for me is the problem we have with politics,” Bergamini said.

Bergamini believes that without knowledge of democracy being passed down to younger generations, people are more likely to rely on resources like the internet that “skews people’s opinions”.

This is where Bergamini thinks the Political Literacy programme can help. The course, consisting of three units, acts as an introduction to politics for younger people by providing an “unbiased” understanding of political systems.

The first unit consists of local and national politics whilst providing a basic foundation of political knowledge. The second unit delves into media literacy focusing on the reporting of politics and the bias of the media as well as teaching the political compass, whilst the final unit involves employability and politics which looks at improving presentation and people skills. 

The course rewards students with an AQA qualification and is for “year nines and above”. Bergamini noted that the course has “quite a broad reach, purely because as I said, unless you’ve taken government politics at A-Levels or politics in something at university, most of us just don’t have this knowledge." 

Bergamini said that, in light of the increased youth turnout in the previous two UK elections, a course such as this is “massively important”. He went on to detail how “we need, now more than ever” something in the curriculum that, without bias, could provide a basis for young people to actively participate in democracy.

There are no current plans for Shout Out UK to push for the teaching of politics to be mandatory in the UK. However, the success of the Political Literacy course could help do a lot in terms of highlighting the importance of educating young people in politics for the future.

Bergamini said that “ever since the Trump election and Brexit” the course has “flown off the shelves” with demand from schools increasing as young people become more interest in current political affairs and strive for a greater understanding overall.

The Political Literacy Course Online launches September 8th in the UK and you can find more information on Shout Out UK’s site here.

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