By Rania Ramli
A vital and indispensable aspect of growing up. The key to prosperity and future success. The stepping stone to enabling young people to achieve their dreams and develop into thriving citizens who go on to make a significant change within our society.
With that being said, surely the government should be doing all that they can to ensure that children and young people are provided with the opportunities and resources necessary to enable them to reach their goals – regardless of gender, family background or their financial situation.
Every child has the right to a high-quality education, which broadens their horizons and allows them to feel valued as an individual.
Yet despite this, the current government seems more concerned with raising tuition fees and allowing people to build unnecessary free schools – creating an education system which is having a detrimental effect on the future of the next generation. We are being let down.
It is for this reason that the West Ham Labour Education Debate, hosted by West Ham Women’s Forum and organised and chaired by Seyi (our women’s officer) on the 16th January, was extremely useful. It gave members of the public the opportunity to put forward their views on the future of education to political leaders of a distinctively high calibre – these included Lord Andrew Adonis (the driver of the Academy program in the UK), Sharon Hodgson MP (Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities and Former Minister for Children and Families), Professor Becky Francis (Professor of Education and Social justice at Kings College University), and Dianne Walls (who has taught in the East end for over 40 years and who is currently a school governor for Chobham Academy). The main objective of the event was to reflect on Labour’s legacy with regards to education, and discuss the stance that the party should take in developing a new policy.
One of the most impressive aspects of this event was the 3:1 ratio of female to male speakers on the panel, hence highlighting the high calibre of influential female role models in today’s society (the event was hosted by the Women’s forum after all). Hearing the poise and confidence that the female members of the Labour party expressed when asking questions was also very refreshing, and put the event in a unique position compared to other similar, but male-dominated political debates.
The focus on Newham schools also made the event very personal to me as a young person attending a secondary school in Newham, creating an excellent platform to enable me to put forward my own views and opinions. I asked what the panel’s view was on the idea that education was about more than grades and qualifications, as this is something which I think has been lost with the current government’s reform of the system. I was therefore very glad that other members also posed similar questions, creating a common agreement between those in the room that personal and social development was tremendously important, and something that needed to be more incorporated within the national curriculum.
I would also just like to take this opportunity to thank Seyi (our women’s officer) and the other members of the West Ham Women’s Forum for organising this event, and creating a platform which enabled discussion and debate around one of the most important aspects of our society – one which will carve the way to success for the next generation.
Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world – we cannot afford to get it wrong.