For all the talk from FF/FG/Labour/Greens etc about getting youth involved in politics and taking part in our democracy, they take very little action.
Why not do something proactive rather than just pay lip service for a change, like remove Religion as a leaving cert subject and replace it with an enhanced civics curriculum?
Its been a while, but as a student civics class was a joke.
The problems of voter apathy and democratic deficit are not exclusivly Irish, and a lot of people are very aware of their rights in society, but not their responsibilities.
We are also getting to a situation where talent shows are getting a more vote turnout and coverage than elections.
Xfactor means more to people than politics, and because we have a virtual political caste it is getting harder for the state to relate to everyday life - not that FF or FG want to do anything about the continued perpetuation of a two party system.
Why not have civics as a compulsary, scored subject to junior cert level - just to teach students how the country is meant to work - and a simple format, the basics
How our PR electoral system works and how it compares to others
The role of the Government
The role of the Legal branch
The rights and responsibilities of the individual
The rights and responsibilities of the state
How the EU works
The EU's role in relation to the state etc.
Then, as a votive - extra - subject for the Leaving Cert students - as in the US - could earn college points for various voluntary activities.
To involve them in the community.
A good example would be the selection of a local ameinity for repair, rubbish removal, graffiti removal, volunteer hospital work etc. in return for a project book submitted for CAO placement points, particularly if it had relevance to a college course.
As an extension of the civic program, and in conjunction with AN's policy to switch more foreign aid to micro finance.
This also ties in with the idea of a VSO/Peace Corps. It could be integrated to transition year for schools that have that system or perhaps a better idea during a gap year for students.
This provides an opportunity for schools to link with projects, the class is partially given a budget by the state to invest in micro finance - and get a return on investment for the school.
I'd be in favour of students raising their own budget through civic or sponsored programs, and the state matches that fund to a capped amount.
They vote on what project to support - it involves them in a democratic decision making process.
We would work with someone like Kiva.org, or base a program on that model.
It connects students with the project directly, and could tie in with the overseas volunteer program.