Political Literacy: Young People

Electoral Commission Committee – in the House of Commons on 22nd April 2021.

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Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

What steps the Electoral Commission is taking to increase levels of political literacy among young people.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

The Electoral Commission has an important duty to promote public awareness of the UK’s electoral systems. Following the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland and Wales, and ahead of next month’s elections, the commission has been working with teachers and youth leaders to support citizenship education and has shared newly developed education resources for young people in Scotland and Wales. These resources will be extended to cover young audiences in England and Northern Ireland later this year. Alongside that, the commission has developed a new public awareness campaign and online information hub to increase public understanding of political campaigning carried out online.

Photo of Vicky Foxcroft Vicky Foxcroft Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

Shout Out UK, the secretariat for the all-party parliamentary group on political literacy, emphasises that political and media literacy go hand in hand. Considering the excessive harm we have seen caused by misinformation, conspiracy theories and low levels of media literacy, how can the Electoral Commission collaborate with organisations working to counter misinformation in order to fulfil its remit to ensure the integrity of the democratic process?

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The commission has recently published political literacy resources to include a module on online campaigning, which provides structured suggestions to help young people assess the information they see online. The commission has collaborated with a range of partners to develop those resources, including teachers, organisations supporting citizenship education, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and their respective Education Departments.