The problems with plastics
06/03/2020
Morrish Solicitors
06/03/2020

The need for political literacy

December 2019, was a wake-up call.  A wake-up call to the urgent need to give the next generation the tools needed to defend themselves against misinformation and disinformation, being able to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, currently, politics plays no part in state schools, meaning many hit 18 without having any political education on how our democracy works. This alone is problematic, but coupling this with a media spin becomes a deadly combination for misinformation.

With little defence against misinformation, the public can be spun to believe and repeat rhetoric. Now, this is not referring to the public as ‘stupid’. The public is not stupid, far from it. However, for the most part, we are politically illiterate. In a similar way to when someone takes a car to be fixed, for the most part, we rely on the expert mechanic to not rip us off, we rely on politicians to guide us. However, if we come across a rogue trader (rouge politician) we are often powerless to ‘defend ourselves’, unless we know someone who can support and inform us in making the right choice. If the person you know, however, is misleading you then you are in trouble.

Democracy functions in very much the same way. Currently, if we are not armed with the knowledge ourselves to make political decisions, we rely on our ‘expert’ friends, the media and politicians, or campaigners. Our expert friend, however, can and often does mislead us.

The only antidote against misinformation is to ensure all schools and young people are Politically Literate. The rights of every worker and future worker rest on ensuring they are armed with the tools necessary to understand how our democracy functions. 

As the government has been disinterested in ensuring working-class young people are politically literate, we have urged many Unions to answer the calls from young people in helping them become Politically Literate. 

Napo was one such Union. Supporting our work in schools for this academic year meant schools in five areas across the UK are now able to deliver Political Literacy and Media Literacy training to young people!

The areas, identified by Napo and Shout Out UK include; 

  • Wales, Cardiff
  • South London (Clapham Junction, Battersea or Wandsworth
  • North East England (Newcastle)
  • Midlands (Birmingham, Leicester)
  • South East England (Kent, Surrey)

The project is moving into its second phase, from recruitment to school delivery. Between September 2019 and January 2020, we underwent a stage of recruitment, ensuring we book schools in the areas identified by Napo and once booked, onboarded each school and trained the teachers. 

As the Political Literacy programme includes a full E-portal system for both teachers and students, it was imperative for us to give schools enough time to embed the programme fully into their systems.

School staffing and abilities differ in different areas. The King’s Academy, for instance, was onboarded in December 2019, while others need more time. By the end of January 2020 we will have on-boarded all schools and moved onto phase two. 

The world is shaped by those who understand politics, so if you’re not doing politics… remember, politics is doing YOU! We can do better than those currently in power. However, it all starts with Political Literacy and organisations like Napo who support it.

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