A Ucluelet councillor wants Civic Studies to be taught in local classrooms.
Civics teaches students about responsible citizenship, democratic duties and the political process, which are things Coun. Randy Oliwa believes the next generation should know about.
“We should actually be teaching this in school,” Oliwa said during a recent council meeting. “It’s community engagement, it’s volunteering it’s all the stuff we talk about but somehow it’s out of our curriculum.”
He said the idea came to him during a Local Government Leadership Academy (LGLA) forum last month.
“It was really a successful week,” he said of the forum, which was held in Vancouver.
“I feel invigorated and reenergized and more focused because of it so thanks to the community for believing in us and sending us to this great educational opportunity.”
He said local students should learn about how democratic engagement works and that it would be “amazing” if the district could work with local partners to put Civic Studies onto the local curriculum
“It teaches so much. It’s integrity, it’s local politics…it’s community minded, it’s volunteerism, it’s everything,” he said. “It’s the whole gamut.”
Oliwa told the Westerly News after the meeting that civics could be brought to Ucluelet Secondary School’s desks and noted the school’s Parent Advisory Council has successfully lobbied for curriculum adds before.
“I understand with budget cuts and stuff like that how it’s not there anymore but, do we have the opportunity? Absolutely,” he said. “Programs absolutely can be developed, we’ve had a number of successes there.”
He said the high youth turnout in Canada’s 2015 federal election should be fostered into a long-term trend.
“There is a trend right now where youth are getting involved in politics,” he said. “How do we keep that momentum up? How do we build on that energy that was there?”
He said Civic Studies would help West Coast graduates enter adulthood with the necessary tools to engage.
“They would have a really clear understanding of the political process and volunteerism, engagement, how boards of directors work; the spinoff would be huge,” he said.
“You’d have those graduating kids with that knowledge and then, if they moved on to running for municipal or provincial politics, they would at least have a clearer understanding of what the commitment is when you put your name in.”
He added this could also rejuvenate local boards and committees.
“If you had this new energized group of youth coming out of a graduating class that were very familiar with the process, it would just be a natural fit to join a board,” he said.
USS principal Carol Sedgwick told the Westerly that Civic Studies 11 is one of three options for BC high school students to fulfill their Social Studies graduation requirement but USS focuses on the other two.
“In order to graduate in BC students need to take at least one of the following: Social Studies 11 (SS 11), BC First Nations Studies 12 (BCFNS 12), or Civic Studies 11,” she said.
She said SS 11 is the most common so is offered every year as well as BCFNS 12.
“Due to a variety of reasons including the number of students registered in Grade 11 in any given year, admission requirements for post-secondary schools, and the fact that more than half of our students are Aboriginal we are able to offer two of the three possibilities and choose to offer SS 11 and BCFNS 12,” she said.
“I would expect that some schools as small as ours only offer one of the three options and schools as large as ADSS [Alberni District Secondary School] only offer two of the three options as well.”
She noted Civic Studies is available to local students through distance learning.