(First published by the Gibraltar Chronicle)
The election campaign debates were, barring only a couple, infantile and adversarial. Of course, we expect an adversarial debate between a panel of politicians – it is a sign of a healthy democracy. But it was not adversarial in terms of a discussion and friction of ideas, rather more a game of one-upmanship. And we still wonder why the political system fails to attract a wider and diverse portion of the population.
However, once again, the youth have shown the politicians how it is done. Jonathan Scott ran a GBC discussion on education featuring students from the secondary schools and college, not awfully dissimilar to the one I participated in last summer. The debate was conducted in a far more mature and civilised manner that we have seen at times during election campaigns. Like the debate last summer, it was idea-driven and looked to establish agreements as well as disagreements.
One thing the entire panel agreed on was the need for a move to co-education in Gibraltar – just as was the case in last summer’s debate. This was welcomed with much satisfaction from the panellist Aaron Santos who told me that “participating in the debate was an incredible experience. We debated several topics regarding education. One being co-education! I was thrilled to see that everyone in the panel, including myself, were for co-education when asked by the host”.
The innovative ideas discussed were centred in education and methods to improve it, which included an update in technology and flip classrooms and a review of the level of support and pastoral care students receive, while rude interruptions from the panel remained minimal – ironically unlike some classrooms.
Far from lamenting our prospects for a better way of doing politics in Gibraltar, we should take heart in these discussions for the future. If the next couple of generations are encouraged and nurtured, Gibraltar could see a parliament that is not only less juvenile in display, but also better reflects her people – with more women and increased representation for the various minority groups that mirror Gibraltar’s multiculturalism.