Climate protesters to be invited to education meeting

Young people who took part in a climate change march through Lerwick are being invited to give a presentation to elected members at an education and families meeting.

Chairman of the committee, George Smith, said he had been highly impressed by the arguments made by school children who called on the council to declare a climate emergency.

Over 100 youngsters were this month led from the Anderson High School to the town hall by the environment protest group Eco Youth Shetland.

They were inspired by the Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, who sparked a global reaction when she walked out of her own school in protest over climate change.

Speaking during Friday morning’s education meeting, Mr Smith said he had heard their presentation along with North Isles member Ryan Thomson and depute leader Emma Macdonald, as well as chief executive Maggie Sandison.

He stressed it was important others heard their message, too.

“We were privileged to engage with young folk,” he said.

“What struck me was the quality of their presentation. I made a commitment to them that they could come to our September meeting to make their presentation to the committee.”

He added the youngsters had acknowledged efforts being made by the council to reduce waste and protect the environment. But he added there were some things the authority could be doing in schools to “eradicate” the use of plastics.

Mr Smith said he also wanted to make it a regular agenda item for young people, after points raised by them that they did not feel their voice was being heard by elected members.

“I want there to be a regular agenda item, but the onus will be on them to come,” he added. “We’re not going to chase them.”

Earlier, Mr Smith welcomed confirmation from Depute First Minister John Swinney that the Scottish government’s “flagship” Education Bill had been scrapped – echoing points he made in today’s issue of The Shetland Times.

Addressing councillors, he paid tribute to the work of Cosla, which reflected local authority arguments while engaging with Mr Swinney.

Adding there was a “juxtaposition of empowerment and resources”, he said the SIC would continue to argue for a fair allocation of funds.

“Another layer of legislation would add all sorts of complications,” he said.

Mr Smith’s comments came at the beginning of a “cracking” meeting, during which members discussed reports on Shetland’s Community Learning and Development Plan and findings on child poverty and social work, as well as a report on closing the attainment gap.


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