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The Young People’s Parliament, Birmingham, (YPP)
Educating for Democracy
– gives youngpeople in Birmingham and the West Midlands a voice - whether on school, local quality of life orwider national issues; and on global concerns such as sustainable development and human rights.The initiative is a partnership between The University of the First Age, Birmingham City Counciland the new centre for learning and leisure, Millennium Point. Already by using ICT, websites,video conferencing and e-mail, as well as use of the City’s Council Chamber, the young people of Birmingham and beyond have been able to participate in two pilot projects. The General Electionproject in 1997 linked young people in the West Midlands directly with politicians and provided alively and robust exchange of views. The first G8 Young People’s Summit (YPS) was held in May1998 to coincide with the G8 Summit meeting in Birmingham. Two youth delegates came fromeach of the G8 countries as well as the EU. A communiqué was drafted, mainly on the issues of third world debt relief, after a meeting with the Prime Minister. It made a powerful statement forthe right of young people to be heard in international affairs.
The Youth Parliament Competition
is now in its eighth year, organised by the CitizenshipFoundation and sponsored by Motorola. Each participating secondary school holds a mockparliamentary session of the pupils’ own choosing. There are ministers and shadow ministersand a host of backbenchers on both sides. A twenty minute video of the debate is sent to regionaljudges and regional winners are then judged by a national panel. There is also a separate politicalwriting competition. The national winners are invited to a presentation at the Houses of Parliament to receive their prizes and to meet senior politicians. The entry for this year’s nationalwinner (for the second time), St Michael’s Roman Catholic School, Billingham, Cleveland,included Prime Minister’s Questions and the pollution tax debate. The leading roles went to Year11 students with Year 7 pupils providing the bulk of the backbenchers.
– currently a large initiative is being developed by the Department forEducation and Employment and the Department for the Environment, Transport and Regions, tohold a national Children’s Parliament competition for primary schools, on local, regional and thennational levels. The issues debated will be environmental and there will also be an essaycompetition. Youth Parliaments are also organised by the Council for Education in WorldCitizenship, which involve role-play and are based on an international problem (we saw one atBrighton on the international drugs trade).