Friday, 26 October 2012

Eye on the Hill

Can I vote please?

FECKLESS, lazy and indolent! But enough about our politicians, here's some news to gladden the heart of every pupil entranced by the glitzy glamour of being part of decision-making! Sinn Féin are to propose a motion that will enable every 16-year-old yob to vote.

MLA Megan Fearon, not much older herself at the politically unheard of age of 21, is reported as saying: "Many young people are feeling disenfranchised from the electoral process even though at 16 young people are very politically aware and able to make informed choices.
Ms Fearon may be right about this - plonk an MLA in front a group of young people and the MLA usually stumbles away ready for the relative ease of a plenary session.

We are all too well aware that the glamour of voting may wear off after one vote in a primary school assembly hall with stubby pencils and baffling lists of no hopers and people who won't get elected too.

However, Ms Fearon may well have hit upon a grand idea here - let more people whose services are decided upon actually have a say over which numpty will be debating the issues in the Norn Iron Assembly! After all is said and done the grey vote is much talked about, the pink vote is not talked about, so let's have a vote for another group who can quickly align themselves to one side of the political divide or another.

 While the motion proposed by Ms Fearon appears to have some weight in terms of EU guidance - and a precedent is set to be set in Scotland - one wonders if the greybeards in the Assembly will really want more people out there voting. Come polling time it must be reassuring to wander around talking to 30-year-olds that seem awfully young to a lot of candidates. Having to talk to young people that are the same age as your grandchildren: that will be horrific.

But we see an opportunity for MLAs to engage young people through a series of inspired motions. First up will be a debate calling on the Executive to agree that FIFA13 is the best football game on the PS3. A private member's bill could be lodged requiring all households be linked to play computer games compulsorily for one hour a day. A question could be tabled to the Minister for Education: "Will the Minister reveal what his top score was on..." The possibilities are endless.


CHILDREN generally have been expected to be tested at some point in their lives: GCSE's, A Levels and even the much debated post-primary transfer test feature large in their lives.
Some testing is always good, given that it helps teacher, parents, and even the pupils themselves gauge progress. As so many children are computer literate it also seemed a good idea to have some tests on computers.

But when the computer system seemingly crashes, or gives out seemingly wrong results...such was the topic of debate this week when the Assembly’s education committee heard that testing in primary schools had gone awry, causing the Education Minister to suspend use of the computer based system until the problem had been ironed out.

Of course officials and MLAs missed out on the one way to get the mess sorted – ask a teenager to fix the problem. Fifteen minutes, a fiver and an energy drink and the problem would be solved.
But instead committee members and officials jousted with the committee chairman claiming the problem was on a par with the Ulster Bank IT failure. We bet the Ulster Bank never thought to ask a teenager either.

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