Schools students to set out International Development Priorities for MSPs at Holyrood

15/04/2008

Fifth and sixth-year schools students from across Scotland will set out their views to MSPs at Holyrood next month on which issues should be ranked as international development priorities.

In a conference organised by the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee, eight schools from across Scotland will examine the issues in the Parliament’s debating chamber and committee rooms, and consider:

  • Why should the EU, UK and Scotland have a development policy?
  • Which countries and regions should the EU, UK and Scotland prioritise when giving development aid?
  • What are the key issues that the EU, UK and Scotland should try to address?
  • How can awareness of international development issues be raised within the EU, UK and Scotland.
  • And, how can young Scots make a difference?

With each school invited to send a delegation of up to six students, participants will have the opportunity to work closely with MSPs and hear from Linda Fabiani, Scotland’s Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture, Basque MEP Mikel Irujo Amezaga and David Martin MEP.

As well as a means of raising awareness of EU and Scottish international development policies, the findings and presentations from the students will help shape the current parliamentary inquiry into International Development being conducted by the European and External Relations Committee.

Next month’s conference, titled the Europe Day Conference, will be held on 9 May (Europe Day) which marks the anniversary of the first moves in 1950 towards the creation of what is now known as the European Union.

The day-long conference is being jointly hosted with the Scotland offices of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the British Council.

Malcolm Chisholm MSP, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee said:  “Many young people have a strong sense of justice and awareness of international issues. The Europe Day Conference offers fifth and sixth year students from across Scotland the opportunity to influence Scotland’s international development policy.”

David Martin MEP added: “With the European Union being one of the major donors of development aid and Scottish young people being highly motivated in the campaign to make poverty history, I am delighted with the theme of this year’s Europe Day Conference.”

Mikel Irujo Amezaga MEP added: ”The main role of The European Parliament towards the developing world is being their eyes, their ears, and their mouth in Europe. But maybe more important than that is to be one of their hands helping build a better future for them, for all. We should be one of their hands and, as hands work together, we need their hand to make progress together.”

John Edward, Head of the European Parliament Scotland Office said: "It is a great sign that the European Parliament is able to co-operate so closely with the Scottish Parliament in this way.  International development is not only one of those political issues that crosses local, national and European boundaries - but one which is very close to the individual concerns and consciousness of the Scottish people.”

Roy Cross, Director British Council Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be involved with the Europe Day Conference. Any opportunity that allows young Scots to become involved in the participation of international development issues and to gain an insight into the Scottish and European Parliaments should be warmly welcomed.”

The participating schools are:

  • Saint Roch’s Secondary School, Glasgow, Glasgow region
  • Ullapool High School, Ullapool, Highlands and Islands region
  • St George’s School for Girls, Edinburgh, Lothian region
  • Kirkland High School and Community College, Methil, Mid Scotland and Fife region
  • Mintlaw Academy, Mintlaw, North East Scotland region
  • Hawick High School, Hawick, South of Scotland region
  • Saint Ninian’s High School, Bishopbriggs, West of Scotland region
  • Williamwood High School, Clarkston, East Renfrewshire

Background

Following speeches in the debating chamber, the schools will break up into workshops which will inform pupils’ views on development issues. The four workshop session topics are:-

  • Economic development/fair trade
  • Conflict
  • Health issues/HIV/Aids
  • Education