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Tuesday, 21 November 2017 11:44 am

Politics, social issues on the minds of high school students

Aug 26th, 2017 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Poverty, housing, water and the gender pay gap are the big political issues for Year 10 students at Wellington High School.

A General Election project in the Social Studies curriculum is getting students engaged with the issues that affect the country.

Social sciences teacher Katheryn Hutchinson  has the job of getting the students thinking critically about issues.

Social sciences teacher Katheryn Hutchinson guides her class through the project

“And then think about how the different political parties are approaching those issues, so they’re informed citizens,” she says.

She says the students engagement in politics varies.

“I think that a lot of them have a strong sense of social justice and many of them are interested in furthering issues of social justice, so participate in groups in order to do that.

“Others see politics as somewhat removed from them, and I think one of the challenges in New Zealand is to bring politics right into the communities.

“So politics isn’t just the beehive in election year but it’s an ongoing series of discussions that others have in society all the time.”

The students at Wellington High School now use laptops to do their reserch

When the students chose the subjects of interest to them, personal experience and upbringing showed a very clear influence.

“One of the students this year, he is interested in the complicated housing situation in New Zealand because he has experience of the injustice within his family,” Hutchinson says.
“A lot of them are interested in access to water simply because they have been bought up with a sense of respect for the environment.

“And I think issues of equality are of interest to these people too.”

The three most widely chosen topics were the housing crisis and poverty, clean water and the gender pay gap.

SUBHEAD: Greens and Labour popular among high school students

Emily Rosemergy (15) thinks the Greens are the best for addressing poverty

“Emily Rosemergy (15) chose poverty and the housing crisis

“I think that National’s very right wing so I think it’s a bit more into helping the people who already have good positions in life and have money and can support themselves rather than looking at the overall picture of poverty. That’s just my personal opinion.”

She said she prefers the Greens policies.

“I think Greens lean more towards helping everyone especially those who are in poorer positions that can’t quite support themselves at the moment.”

She says her upbringing influences her political leanings.

“I agree with Greens only because my parents do my upbringing. It’s all been about making sure everyone has good conditions not just those who work hard for it.

Some people can’t work hard for it, you know? So it’s a bit like, you got to help everyone.”

Cerys Wiles (14) think National has little incentive to fix the housing crisis

Her classmate Cerys Wiles (14) has similar concerns.

“I haven’t really found out much but so far from what I can tell Greens are more about a bit of social equity whereas National’s sort of, less about that, about going for the rich people,” Wiles says.

“Because I know most people in the National Party own around 3.1 something houses. So they’re not really for paying the tax on the profit after you sell a house.”
Like Emily Rosemergy, she sides with the Greens.

“I agree with Greens because I think everyone has the right to shelter and proper living conditions,” she says.

Nadya Macey’s (14) grandfather was heavily involved in climate change

Environmental issues were of particular concern to student Nadya Macey (14).

“Greens are very environmental, like quite a lot of their, as the name kind of suggests, it’s all about those policies,” she said.

“National is more, I don’t know, it feels more about economics. Like you can’t really find any policies on environmental change and climate change or anything and that’s quite worrying as well, when everything is kind of melting away.”

Like others, her upbringing strongly influenced her view.

Quincy Johnston (14) thinks Labour are the best on clean water and social issues

“Probably because of the way I’m raised. My Granddad’s like a climate change ambassador. In my community it’s very ‘helping the environment’.”

Student Quincy Johnston (14) thinks Labour has good water policies, as opposed to the ACT party.

“Labour is saying it’s trying to help unclean water, and make it more clean again,” he says.

“I don’t really know what the ACT Party does, but basically National. I’m pretty sure not really anything.”

Quincy says he generally supports Labour.

“Yeah, Labour. They’re making the schools better, helping the environment. I think it’s the best thing to go with.”

Neo Silcock (14) thinks the Greens have the best policy on the gender pay gap

On the issue of the gender pay gap, students such as Neo Silcock (14) once again supported the Greens..

“So far I only know that only the Greens are really involved about it. And I still haven’t researched about the other politics and parties yet,” he says

Enliz Samson (14) is looking at the causes of the gender pay gap.

“So, hopefully, maybe Green, because I know they’re standing for the gender pay gap.”

Student Enliz Samson (14) is more interested in the background of the gender pay gap than the politics.

“I’m not tackling the political parties, I’m targeting the cause of it,” she says.

“So I’m going backwards in time. Women not having jobs in ancient Greece and stuff, and the prejudice that’s kind of left. And that it’s an ongoing thing that’s still being dealt with.”

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