Open Letter To The Government and Educational Institutions: UKSCN Demands Immediate Changes To Our Educational System
The youth recognise the need for change, yet as youth strikers forge the path forward, our school system is falling behind. By following the powerful tradition of strike action, young people have demonstrated an acute awareness of their role as citizens to mobilise in defence of our planet. In contrast, the alarming trend of schools penalising students for striking shows their detachment from the issues that matter most to young people. Disciplining students for their engagement with real issues only serves to further alienate young people from an educational system that is more focussed on retaining meaningless authority and control than it is on encouraging students to learn and engage.
The obsession schools have with prescriptive learning and curriculums targeted at exams, rather than at students’ lives, can be found everywhere; from abysmal track records on mental health to controlling, militarised teachers - schools have proven time and time again that they care more about exams and mark schemes than developing curious and engaged individuals, with a real willingness to learn and explore. This might be upheld by restrictive system policy, but we are demanding that the government, and schools, follow our example and start changing the rules. The government must pledge to ensure that schools do the following:
EDUCATE STUDENTS: Fully inform and educate students about the extent and severity of the crisis we are facing, ensuring that the ecological emergency is treated as an educational priority, and that this education is immediate and effective, entrusting the next generation with the truth about their future.
BRING FORWARD CHANGE: Form a student and teacher body within every school, working together with students’, teachers’, and trade unions to actively campaign for change, agreeing to the UKSCN School Pledges, and putting our future at the top of the agenda.
LET STUDENTS STRIKE: Acknowledge and accept the dream the youth have to live in an equitable, safe and sustainable society. Students have an unwavering faith in this cause that they have chosen to support and in turn schools and strikes must be the infatigable defenders of their voice and their human right to protest and express it.
Youth strikes are a rejection of the institutional drive for profit over people. Rather than an outdated disciplinary model, we embrace a collective consciousness and international solidarity, fighting for a future that is being taken away from us. Instead of the individualised school system, we act not for ourselves but for the collective, because the new climate movement must have inclusivity and diversity at its heart, evidenced by our overwhelmingly selfless approach; we are empowered as individuals, but we strike for us all.
Education must be reclaimed. We demand the immediate reform of education, to treat the climate crisis like the emergency it undeniably is. Young people are already engaged in the most important issue of our time; we cannot be denied the education needed to tackle it. Schools need to end the practice of exhaustive examination, instead supporting students to engage in the real world and explore with curiosity and freedom. We stand in full support of the NEU’s call to boycott the SATs exams, and call on the government to ensure that schools nationwide prioritise the ecological crisis.
We desperately and urgently need a new and radical education system, centring education and action at the heart of the youth climate movement. Our world, our system, our future is dying. Schools ignoring the climate crisis is a deadly tradition that must end to avoid fatal consequences. Educate us, and educate us now: because to hide the truth from us is to turn a blind eye to the power young people have to save our planet.
The UK Student Climate Network.