Not often that I do this, but just having finished my SOK exam has magically filled me up with the need to fulfil my freedom of expression, as well as exercise my right to freedom of expression.
Last night, in a surprising show of unity, voted unanimously for the constitution to be amended to allow for people of 16 years of age to vote in general and MEP elections, this comes after months, even years of campaigning by various student groups and activists, so for a lot of people, this is a huge win and has reason to be celebrated.
However, I do not agree with this change. At least, not in the way it is being made. We are giving 16-year-olds (myself included) the power to influence and choose who will be representing the population in the only democratically elected chamber in our country, without giving them the proper education first and foremost. Most would simply not interest themselves in hearing both sides of an argument and simply vote as their friends or family have. This is of course, not the case with everyone and I am sure there are many who would choose to educate themselves, but I do not think the majority would.
What needs to happen is a major reform in the educational system, schools can no longer shy away from political discussions, rather, they should regulate them and even encourage them to happen, now more than ever before.
Students in the last few years of secondary school and those in sixth form should be educated on how our voting system works in detail (how we use the single transferable vote system, what its benefits are, how many people are elected to parliament, cross-voting, etc.) and should also be given non-biased lessons about each party. These would what they stand for, their political leanings, their history and so forth. Students should also learn the difference between liberalism, conservatism, and many different terms which are extremely important to know when making an educated decision on who to vote for.
In the end, this is just one 16 year old’s opinion, but if we are going to give more people the chance to vote, we must give it to them with the certainty that what they choose will be what they truly believe is best for our country.
Written by: Nicholas Galea