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Samoan youth advocate says young people should practice voting at school

A Samoan youth advocate says to get the youth to vote in elections, they must be given the opportunity to practice in high school.

Josiah Tualamali'i is the chairperson for the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (PYLAT) in Christchurch.

He says the lack of youth engagement in democracy is a systemic issue and needs to be addressed at secondary school level.

"It takes an opportunity to practice something before you get good at it or before you can build the confidence to know what you're doing," he says. "You can do that while you're at school."

Josiah Tualamali'i (centre) says young people should practice voting at school. Photo/ Facebook: Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council. 

Tualamali'i says he'd like school prefects to be elected or nominated by students so that they're familiar with political elections. 

"They can practice the idea of practicing democracy earlier on," he says. "The school trusting them and understanding that young people can look at it and come to a decision."

A youth survey led by PYLAT and other groups found most young people were not engaged during the 2014 general elections, due to lack of information and exposure to democratic practices.  

Tualamali'i is calling on all political parties to make their key messages, clear and accessible. 

"It's giving messages in ways that young people can understand and have access to," he says. "With all the messages that come from everywhere sometimes the key points get lost.

"Our advice to any political party is to be really clear and clarity isn't just for young people, it's for everyone." 

Tags: politics, Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council, Josiah Tualamali'i,