Raaj Chatterjee (left) and Gary Xie have created Save Ourselves to provide students a voice in education talks.

Giving students a voice to address issues

Semiahmoo Secondary teens launch petition, website to raise awareness about education shortfalls

Two Semiahmoo Secondary students are taking the future of their education into their own hands with an initiative rallying for more resources to be put towards schooling.

Raaj Chatterjee and Gary Xie – both going into Grade 12 – created Save Ourselves at the end of the last school year as a result of their dissatisfaction with the level of attention the newly re-elected provincial government was displaying towards education.

“We saw that a lot of teachers are trying to advocate for these issues but they weren’t being heard as much, so we thought we could add a student voice in the discussion,” Chatterjee said.

“We wanted to represent students and what’s important for students.”

After doing research, the duo came up with a draft for a letter that they would send to the minister of education. But after receiving feedback from community leaders – including teachers, administrators and parents – the duo realized a letter would not be enough.

With support from other students, the two began working on a petition and, soon after, created a website that laid out seven issues they believe require urgent attention, including education funding, school resources and cuts to special needs and staffing.

“I’ve personally noticed a trend of reducing resources and special-needs teachers. They’re clumping everything together and we’re moving away from personalized education,” Chatterjee said. “Here in Surrey, the Earl Marriott Secondary crowding issue is another big thing that needs to be dealt with.

“These are priorities that need to be met.”

While many of the group’s issues align with those of teachers, Chatterjee said that the plan is to stay independent from educators in order to ensure the demands made are coming purely from the students they represent.

“They have their own reasons for fighting, but we just want to make this clear that this is the students’ voice.”

For more information on the group or to read the petition, visit www.saveourselves.ca

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