Education is limitless to us,
A long and endless skyline,
A step straight off the sidelines,
Or the streets,
A lift of head from feet,
This is how we speak about it.
Inclusion is togetherness,
Disability and difference do not make a lack of dreams,
But we understand that some are limited by a lack of means,
That bullying and gender,
And poverty and parents,
Are all barriers that need be overcome,
And that we’re far from there yet.
It’s not that we have nothing to say,
It’s that for too long we’ve been bowed heads spoken over in classrooms and meeting halls,
Or always asked questions that miss the mark,
Are really you surprised that you’re still in the dark when
We lack a stage, a space, a listener to our voices,
The choice is yours,
All your solutions are band-aid until you put your ear to the ground,
If the system’s not working then look at what we’ve found.
This first edition of Enabling Education Review since EENET’s 20th anniversary is written entirely by those under the age of 25, and places the voices of young people centre stage. Their stories offer an exploration of their views and attitudes towards issues such as bullying and inclusivity, their reflections on teaching staff and their own actions as young advocates. Importantly, they highlight the need to listen to young voices when trying to create an educational environment that is truly inclusive.
The contributions in this issue demonstrate that these young people are not only aware of the barriers they face to education but also show the consideration they have given to how such barriers may be overcome. Many of the contributions show the engagement of young people with issues that are usually considered beyond their understanding.
The underestimation of the importance of young people’s voices leaves a stark gap in research and education. However, by asking the right questions and listening to young people’s views on how they are affected, this gap can be bridged. These young voices can help provide the answers to questions of how to make education more accessible and how to teach in a way that reaches those hardest to reach. By bringing together the voices of all of those involved in education, those working in education and development can help to create a clearer picture of the issues and how they may be resolved.
Many of the young people whose accounts are featured in this review highlight their view of education as the key to their success, future and achieving their dreams. It is only right that they be included in discussions surrounding something that is so important to them.
Alice Bloom, age 21, student at University of Manchester, UK.
Alice is a poet and spoken word performer. She is a member of Young Identity, a Manchester-based poetry collective that supports teenagers and young adults by using prose and poetry to expose young people’s issues locally and gives them a platform to speak about the subjects that affect them.