Education Minister to face youth panel to address post lockdown concerns

By August 2, 2020General, News, Newsroom

Education Minister Peter Weir will face questions from a panel of young people about their future as Northern Ireland emerges from lockdown.

The Minister is holding a Zoom meeting on Monday morning with members of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) to address a range of issues including his department’s preparation for the return to school and the plight of university students facing uncertainty as a result of the pandemic.

The questions are based on the concerns expressed by hundreds of young people in two surveys carried out by the NIYF at the beginning and height of the pandemic. Respondents felt that their views have not been considered, with 88% stating the importance of young people being part of the decision-making process.

Questions include how schools will operate effectively once young people return in September; what extra help will be available to support children who have fallen behind with schoolwork and what support the Department of Education will put in place for students preparing to go to university.

The panel of young people will challenge the Minister on whether his department has any plans to introduce support for university graduates facing a decrease in job prospects as a result of Covid-19.

And they will call on the Minister to introduce additional resources for schools and youth services plus support to enable disadvantaged families access to laptops, tablets and internet for home schooling.

One of those taking part in the meeting, NIYF Vice Chair, Oisín-Tomás ó Raghallaigh, said:

 “’NIYF’s Covid-19 surveys highlighted the diverse range of issues that young people, youth organisations, educational Institutions and parents/carers have faced and will continue to face during the pandemic and beyond. We look forward to highlighting these issues with Peter Weir and discussing positive and practical actions which can be taken.”