19/11/2014 04:09 GMT | Updated 18/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Young Greens Are Leading the Way in a New Wave of Student Politics


Today, thousands of students will be marching in London to demand an end to tuition fees, student debt, and cuts to education services in England. It's fitting that the Young Greens are co-organisers of the demonstration and will have a huge presence at it: as the fastest-growing youth party in the country, we're clearly doing something right when it comes to youth politics.

It doesn't take much to see what that is. The Greens are calling for votes at 16, free education, and an end to cuts to youth services. However, it's not just impressive youth policies that have students and young people flocking to the Greens.

The Young Greens are a dynamic, active and radical group, and young people are attracted to the sense of possibility which we carry - and there's no better example of this than today's march. While the NUS voted only narrowly to support free education, and have withdrawn support for the protest today, the Young Greens have stood alongside a coalition of anti-austerity groups to demand a positive, debt-free future for young people. It's this kind of movement which is vital in making young people feel empowered to fight for their future.

Young Greens have a wide range of reasons for supporting free education: for Rosie, it's because "I deserve to start my adult life debt-free and ready to pursue aims that I see as important, not just the economically rewarding ones that tuition fees encourage me to seek." For Stuart, it's because "access to the learning of skills; development of ideas, and expansion of creativity, shouldn't have a price tag attached to it." For Jack, it's because "we need to keep the market out of education!"

These individuals, and many others, belong to a new generation of young activists. Today's march is an incredibly positive sign that in an era of apathy and political disengagement, young people are beginning to engage with politics.

For this engagement really to happen, though, not only do young people need to try and make their voices heard, but politicians need to show that they're listening. So far, all the major parties have decisively failed to do this - and the Greens are the exception.

While the coalition has raised tuition fees, facilitated the fragmentation of secondary education, and imposed huge cuts on education services, and Labour has pledged to scrap job-seekers' allowance for under-25s, the Green Party has stood firmly alongside young people. Today, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett will speak at the Free Education rally, as will Green MP Caroline Lucas and Deputy Leader Amelia Womack.

Amelia has pledged her full support for the Free Education movement, saying "education is a social good - a well educated society is a flourishing society that is ready to rise to the challenges and opportunities of the future.

"We must reject the market driven model of education that sees learning as nothing more than training for work, and students as nothing more than future workers. Free education is just one part of Higher Education reform that we must demand so that every person can be educated to the highest level that they are capable, with the knowledge and full range of skills they require to participate fully in society and lead a fulfilled life."

It's refreshing to see a politician so willing to dedicate their support to a movement ignored by mainstream politics, and it's incredibly encouraging to me - and to the students coming to London from up and down the country - that while we are marching for an issue of such importance to us, there are leading political figures willing to march alongside us. Even more encouraging, however, is the growing feeling that we do have the power, and the will, to make a difference.