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Civics to counter cynicism

YOUNG people today lack recognised "rites of passage to adulthood", the new deputy minister for children and education told a conference on citizenship last week.

Peter Peacock said: "We need young people who are polite, considerate and responsible but also adaptable and free thinking". He was addressing the conference organised by the charitable Gordon Cook Foundation in co-operation with Community Learning Scotland and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Education alone could not take on full responsibility. There had to be partnerships with government, local authorities, the voluntary sector and parents, he added.

Douglas Osler, head of the inspectorate, said that in educating for citizenship there are "no easy fixes". The ethos created by the school was important. He speculated whether indicators could be devised to measure schools' contribution to citizenship.

Sir Stewart Sutherland, principal of Edinburgh University, said that social inclusion and widening of access would contribute to better citizenship and help to counter political cynicism. "Trust is draining out of society," he claimed.

More young people had to be encouraged to consider further and higher education, he said. In the inevitable battle for resources "a great deal should go to FE rather than universities since that is where immediate points of openness and access are to be found."

Leader, page 16

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