Special visit caps off civics education

As New Zealand chief electoral officer Alicia Wright, of Wellington, announces the winners of a...
As New Zealand chief electoral officer Alicia Wright, of Wellington, announces the winners of a mock election at an Otago Girls' High School civics education class yesterday, year 9 pupils Chloe Jack (centre) and Harriet Thompson (both 13) celebrate. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Seven weeks of learning about New Zealand's electoral system ended on a high note when chief electoral officer Alicia Wright arrived at Otago Girls' High School yesterday.

After year 9 pupils had formed mock political parties and gone through a mock political process, including a leaders' debate, voting and coalition forming, Ms Wright yesterday announced the outcome.

"It was fantastic, it was really wonderful. We're just so grateful to Otago Girls' High School,'' registrar of electors Rachel McAnally, of Dunedin, said.

The participating pupils had embraced the awareness-raising programme, and had become fully involved, she said.

Generation Vote, an Otago University Students' Association club, joined forces with the Dunedin Electoral Office to offer the programme, which included teaching by Otago Girls' teacher Rosie Joyce.

Generation Vote director Laura Anderson said youth voting turnout had only slightly increased at the 2017 General Election.

The club, comprising university politics students, was founded last year to teach "civic literacy'' and "to foster a generation of engaged citizens'' in Dunedin.

"We want to see civics education entrenched in New Zealand's education system,'' Ms Anderson said.

She was "absolutely stoked'' with how well the programme had gone, and it had been "amazing'' to have the country's chief electoral officer arriving from Wellington.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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