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Young Souters make Scottish independence curriculum plea

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Andrew Nisbet aged 16 from Selkirk.

Pupils of Selkirk High School were asked their opinions about Scottish independence. Andrew Nisbet aged 16 from Selkirk.

SELKIRK’S newest voters have asked for the Scottish referendum to be included in the school curriculum ahead of the 2014 independence vote.

The Wee Paper this week met up with a Higher modern studies class of 15, 16 and 17-year-olds from Selkirk High to discuss the issue.

While the majority agreed with the decision to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote – as agreed last week by First Minister Alex Salmond, Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore – many felt they were uninformed and thus unable to make a decision.

In particular, the students claimed the message of the yes campaign had yet to reach them.

Emily Newlands said: “If we are not told the positive side of voting yes, we would have to vote no.

“I think the issue should be incorporated into school lessons. There will also be some adults who don’t know much and they should also be educated.”

Amy Pringle, who would have previously missed out on the vote being only 17 in 2014, added: “They should educate everyone in Scotland.

“We all feel we don’t know enough about it and we don’t want to make such a big decision without having any information.

“We need information from someone who won’t try and persuade us to vote on one side.”

Kirsten Spence, 16, agreed. She told us: “We have only been told the negative side of voting yes through the media.

“I want to vote, but I know a lot of people who will just not bother.

“You have to think about maturity levels, some are mature for their age and would vote.

“I don’t think a lot of my friends would bother.”

With a lack of information at their fingertips, the pupils were in agreement that they could not currently vote for Scotland to separate itself from near neighbours England.

Emily added: “I think we would have problems with our economy if we went independent.

“If we had to change money just to go down to England it would be so expensive.”

Amy said: “I have family in England I visit weekly, so having to change money to go to see them would be a real hassle.

“I need to know what the changes will be, so at the moment I would vote no.”

And Kirsten told us: “If we changed to the Euro you only need to look at countries which use it just now which are struggling.”

The fifth and sixth-year pupils’ current scepticism was reflected in a poll Selkirk High’s fourth-year students took part in as part of a national Sunday newspaper survey.

The results showed that while 82.6 per cent felt it was right to allow 16 and 17-year- olds to vote in the referendum, only 22 per cent thought Scotland should be an independent country.

 

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