‘It is important for us young people to get involved in shaping our future’
Alain studies Public Administration and is politically active in the city council in Capelle aan den IJssel and at the ‘Kiesmannen Academy’. He talks about why it is important for young people to be politically active and vote in elections.
Why did you become politically active?
Alain: ‘Before I started studying Public Administration, I was a teaching assistant at primary schools. Between the primary schools where I used to work, I saw a big difference. The first internship I did was at a so-called excellent school where everything was very well organised. After this internship I ended up at a primary school in a deprived area, where everything went quite differently compared to the excellent school. For example, no extracurricular activities were organised by the school itself, but the municipality facilitated this. The big differences I saw in education and the role a municipality can play in this motivated me to become politically active. I took a ‘Politically Active’ course at ProDemos on municipality politics. After that, I became active in a political party in the city council.’
What do you enjoy most about your work in the city council?
‘Municipality politics is close to reality. The moment you have a plan, you can realise it in the short term. Early this year I had the idea of making so-called donation rings on trash cans, so cans and bottles don't end up in the trash. People can take the cans and bottles out of the donation rings and return them at the supermarket. I now see these donation rings everywhere in the municipality.’
Can you explain what the ‘Kiesmannen Academy’ is?
‘The ‘Kiesmannen’ is a theater group that makes theater about politics and social issues. The ‘Kiesmannen Academy’ is part of this. At the Academy, you develop a campaign to gain more voting engagement among young people. This time, the campaign focuses on recent vocational education graduates (mbo in Dutch) who are going to vote for the first time, because research shows that they go to vote less often. Also, if someone does not vote at a young age, they are less likely to vote later in life. That is why we would like to reach this group of young people.’
What do you like the most about working at the ‘Kiesmannen Academy’?
‘What I like most is that a group that is normally overlooked and often unrepresented gets involved. We are in contact with several mbo-institutions and students give a lot of relevant input for the campaign. It's fun to work with them.’
Why do you think it's important for everyone to vote on 22 November?
‘I think it is important for young people to vote, because we see that we still do this too little, compared to older target groups. It may sound blunt, but older people may not be around in forty years, but we will be. Therefore, it is important for us young people to get involved in shaping our future.’
Text: Annemieke van Es