Youth Electoral Study (YES) - Report 5: Youth, schools and learning about politics

Updated: 18 July 2012

13. Policy actions which can enhance the political knowledge and voting commitment of school students

There is considerable evidence in this report about the factors which affect young people's knowledge and attitudes toward politics. In particular, while some dimensions of the school emerge as important, it is clear that the school coexists with the family in the political socialization of young people. The question is whether there are policy measures which flow from these findings which can improve the family and the school in this partnership process. In the following we suggest some policy measures which might improve the political engagement of young Australians and improve their knowledge about the government and increase their commitment to voting.

  1. Interest in the study of the Australian government is a key determining factor in the acquisition of political knowledge and in the commitment to vote. There needs to be more attention into aspects of studies of government, politics, civics – whatever it is called – which make it interesting for young people.
  2. The subject of the course in which students learn about the government is important for a full range of political engagement variables, including intention to vote, being interested in the study of government, and political knowledge.
  3. Take school elections more seriously. The data indicate that students who participate in school elections, either by standing for office, or voting, are more politically engaged. Furthermore this effect is not explained by other variables in our model.
  4. Be aware of the importance of teachers as citizen role models, in and outside the classroom. If students get along with their teachers, the students are more likely to listen to them and do what they do. This includes political behaviour.
  5. Appeal to parents to involve their children in their own political life by encouraging their children to accompany them to vote, by discussions with them about politics, and by encouraging them to register on the electoral roll.