Council could curb children’s climate strikes

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Pupils in Edinburgh would only be allowed one day of protest each year under new proposals. 

14th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Plans by a Scottish council to limit the number of days schoolchildren can strike over climate change are “simply not acceptable,” according to a campaign group.

The proposals would mean pupils in Edinburgh would only be allowed to take one day off school a year to protest about the impacts of global warming.

Schoolchildren in the city staged protests in March and May this year, with smaller groups campaigning outside parliament every Friday since January as part of ongoing global action.

However, a new report for Edinburgh City Council has recommended tougher action to clamp down on pupils taking days off school. 

The council’s education committee convener, Ian Perry, has now lodged a motion suggesting that children should be given a single day each year in which they would be allowed to protest.

It states: "Committee acknowledges the benefits of children taking part in demonstrations and marches which highlight climate change and the detrimental effect on our future environment.

"Given the general party political consensus on the need to tackle climate change, Committee therefore agrees to authorise a single day of action per year for those pupils who wish to take part.

"Any other absences in relation to climate change will be recorded by the school as unauthorised."

Dylan Hamilton, 15, an organiser with Scottish Youth Climate Strike (SYCS) claims the proposals represented a violation of campaigners’ right to protest.

"The climate crisis is the biggest threat to humanity, with the group most affected being the children,” he said.

“We are the ones who will be impacted the most, and all we want is a seat at the table with effective climate targets being decided. Allowing us to protest once a year is simply not acceptable and will not let us get across how serious this is to the people in power.

“Instead of marking us as truants, we should be praised and given help to catch up for adhering to values our schools promote such as celebrating citizenship and being an effective contributor."

Opponents of the protests claim that those taking part are missing out on education, but Dylan disagrees.

He said: "By striking we learn politics, organisation, science, independence and more about society than we’ve ever been taught. To say we are harming our education is untruthful.

"Furthermore, punishing pupils for attending the climate strikes is a violation of our human right to freedom of expression. We urge Edinburgh council to take back this proposal and instead focus on fixing the climate crisis, so we don’t feel the need to protest instead of going to school." 

The council’s education committee will vote on the proposal on Friday.