An Assembly committee has today called on the Welsh Government to roll out education on politics and democracy across all schools.
The call comes ahead of proposals to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local government, in addition to the decision to lower the voting age for Senedd elections in 2021.
The National Assembly’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said that without adequate political education and awareness-raising, 16 and 17-year-olds may not use their right to vote.
John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, said that the extension of the franchise had to come hand in hand with political education.
“It is critical that this is coupled with proper education on politics and democracy,” he said.
“Young people should know about their right to vote and the importance of exercising it.
““Young people I meet are often enthusiastic and politicised on a range of issues. I’m pleased that a majority of the Committee are in favour of extending the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, it’s exciting that Wales is leading the way in this area.”
Jess Blair, Director of Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said that extending the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds offered a huge opportunity to create a new generation of informed and engaged young voters.
“This can only be done if we ensure much better levels of political education are delivered across Wales within schools, with additional support for teachers to deliver this,” she said.
“Our work with young people shows they are excited, enthusiastic and more than ready to vote. But that alone is not enough, we need to ensure they are supported with informative resources that can boost their confidence and get them ready to vote with much more knowledge than we ever had as first-time voters.
“We are really pleased to see this being recommended by the Committee and hope the Welsh Government include these measures within the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill.”