Over the past months, we have witnessed numerous youth protests within Australia and the world, encouraging politicians to introduce policies to protect the environment. Personally, I believe that there are more appropriate ways to campaign for change, but due to the lack of urgency illustrated by politicians regarding climate change, I can understand why many felt these actions were justified. However, regardless of my beliefs on the concept of protests, to see thousands of youth in Australia and around the world engaged and passionate about issues in our world is why I have loved these youth protests.
In March, youth from over 100 countries joined together in “Fridays for Future”, demanding the political elite to urgently address the climate emergency. From Australia to American and India to Uganda, tens of thousands of students left school and participated in these rallies. A student in India, Vidit Baya, commented, “In India, no one talks about climate change…we are trying to get people to be more aware of climate change and the need to tackle it”. Vidit is a clear example of a passionate and engaged individual realising the importance of making his voice heard.
Following the Cardinal Pell sentencing hearing, I was talking with someone about the decision when an individual overheard the conversation and approached us stating, “What’s a pell?”. This comment shocked and disappointed me. We need to be aware of our world. We need to understand what issues are occurring and be able to form opinions about solutions. This is just as relevant to adults as it is to youth. However, the youth of today will be making decisions on some of the concerns emerging currently. Issues regarding the growing refugee crisis, over-population and climate change.
Australian Education minister, Dan Tehan, responded to the protests stating, “Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage.” Well, let me ask you this Mr Tehan. Would you prefer students to sit inside a classroom, sit outdated exams, rote learning information like a robot instead of the ability to critically analyse concepts? Or maybe you would prefer students to be able to write three essays in three hours instead of collaboratively formulating opinions on how to solve issues in our world? What these students are demonstrating is learning outside the classroom. They are utilising the knowledge they have acquired at school and at home through research and are voicing it passionately before the leaders of the nation. That is something we should all be encouraging.
We need youth that are engaged, youth that are passionate about the world and willing to stand up for what they believe in. That is why I love youth protests.