Maltese teens’ proposal for mandatory EU studies curriculum to be presented to MEPs

Maltese teens submit winning proposal for mandatory syllabus on European politics to increase citizens’ knowledge before casting their ballots

Victory! Students Shanise Calleja (second from left), Riane Demicoli and Neil Farrugia celebrate the winning proposal
Victory! Students Shanise Calleja (second from left), Riane Demicoli and Neil Farrugia celebrate the winning proposal

Three Maltese teenagers submitted the winning proposal to a youth event organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), to make European politics part of the mandatory syllabus in all European curriculums.

The proposal was put forward during an assembly in Brussels for 100 students from 33 different countries. The recommendation from three students from  the secondary school St Margaret College in Cospicua, will now be forwarded to the European Parliament.

Students Neil Farrugia, Rianne Demicoli, Shanice Calleja and their teacher Flavia Joanna Grima said winning the content was the last thing they expected

“As their teacher I am honoured that the work and time the students dedicated toward making this activity has been a success,” Grima told TVM.

The EESC invited young Europeans aged between 16 and 18 to submit ideas ahead of the European Parliament elections which in Malta will see 16-year-olds voting for the first time. “Now I know what I will be voting for because I have a far more open mind about Europe and I am looking forward to casting my vote and having my say,” Shanice Calleja said.

The mandatory syllabus on European politics to increase knowledge of citizens before casting their ballots was the most voted proposal in the 2019 edition of Your Europe, Your Say (YEYS). This initiative and three other selected proposals, focused on the use of new technologies and social media to increase participation in EU elections, will be sent to the European Parliament for their consideration.

Maltese civic education is currently limited to the social studies subject.

After two days of lively discussions and debates, the 99 high-school students aged 16-17 selected for YEYS 2019 presented 10 recommendations during a final plenary session. Education and social media were in the spotlight, and a lot of projects combined online platforms and real life meetings, to reconnect civil society with policy-makers.

The four most voted proposals were ‘No Education No Vote’, the project of mandatory syllabus for schools with visits to EU institutions, tests and an interactive platform with quizzes and videos; EU&U.EU, a website summarizing information on EU and EU elections to increase transparency and awareness among citizens with an intensive use of social media and multimedia contents; Europe E-VOTE, a proposal to transform election day in a national holiday and to promote electronic voting; and From You to EU, an initiative to connect social movements with politicians and allowing them to work together to find solutions.

Other proposals presented by the students were #Insta(nt) vote, a proposal to improve EU social media accounts performance by including high quality content specifically addressed to young people; Network of Young Europeans, a project addressed to inform on EU action and limits; Find(ing) your voice, a project for face-to-face dialogue; Shape your future, a website that would allow posting opinions on several topics targeting young people from under 26; SharEU, an app to connect social movements to EU institutions; and Voices worth being heard, a platform where initiatives and speeches could be promoted to encourage voters to engage and fight for their own ideas.

Luca Jahier, EESC President, said: “We have to follow the example of Greta Thunberg, who was capable to mobilise a great number in a short time using a direct language. Please engage in this fight, be provocative, as you are fighting not only for your own future, but also for our future.”