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Szymon Hołownia upsets children and youth: Did the speaker go too far?

Szymon Hołownia upsets children and youth: Did the speaker go too far?

Image source: © Sejm RP / YouTube
Weronika Paliczka,
05.06.2024 12:15

In 2024, the 30th session of the Children and Youth Parliament will take place. This year, however, the speaker has proposed a new method for selecting young MPs. The previous essay competitions will be replaced by a lottery. Age requirements will also change.

The Children and Youth Parliament (Polish: Sejm Dzieci i Młodzieży, SDiM) was meant to be a platform that would bring socially engaged young people into real politics. It involved meetings with parliamentarians and making decisions related to young people's everyday lives. However, issues arose when Szymon Hołownia assumed the position of the Marshal of the Sejm. Students are upset about the decision regarding the new system for electing young MPs.

No more essays. It’s lottery time

"In 2024, the 30th session of the Children and Youth Parliament will take place. To celebrate this special anniversary, the organisers have introduced a new and unique format. Firstly, the Children and Youth Parliament is a project designed to educate the youngest generations of Poles about parliamentarism and democracy through roleplay. Therefore, this year, invitations are being extended to primary school pupils," reads the announcement on the SDiM Facebook page.

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"Secondly, in keeping with the principle of participation, the Chancellery of the Sejm aims to enhance accessibility and equal opportunities for all children interested in participating in the project. Therefore, the schools from which SDiM participants will be selected will be chosen through a draw involving all primary schools in Poland. This draw is scheduled to take place in mid-June this year."

"Thirdly, a noteworthy change is that young participants will have a voice in selecting the topic of the session. The organisers want this year’s participants to consider: ‘What is most important to us?’ The topic chosen and voted on in the Sejm Chamber will subsequently be discussed at the Youth Congress, organised by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, in November."

Children and teachers are outraged

The post generated significant uproar in the comments. Adrian wrote:

"Throughout the Law and Justice (PiS) government's tenure, there have been justified complaints that young people are not allowed to voice their opinions on political issues, with debates often limited to historical topics. I addressed this issue at SDiM in 2019. However, it seems the current government has decided to undermine the essence of SDiM completely. It's now limited to primary schools, presumably because secondary school students might have political views (heaven forbid they are anti-government) and express them at the podium. Moreover, under the guise of 'equality,' participants are now chosen by draw, effectively eliminating any form of competition and effort from students to present the best project. And let's not even mention the supposed transparency of this draw."

Teacher Anetta Grzesik-Robak added:

"This is the greatest disappointment! Congratulations, Mr. Speaker Holownia! You excel at dismantling beautiful, proven projects!"

Alexander commented:

"For the thirtieth anniversary of the Children and Youth Parliament, you have destroyed all the work that many people have dedicated to this project since 1994. Now, the role of an MP in the Children and Youth Parliament is meaningless!"

Sources: Gazeta Wyborcza

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