NUS President blames education cuts for young people joining ISIS

‘If you want to look at the problem you have to look at the state’s hand’

Malia Bouattia, the new President of the NUS, has suggested that privatisation of schools and universities is partly to blame for young people joining terror groups in Syria such as Islamic State.

According to Malia, “every service available to support young people to allow space for critical thought and development has been shut down by the state”, she also added that mass unemployment and the closure of youth centres must also be blamed.

She made these comments during a debate at UCL discussing Prevent anti-terror legislation.

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During the debate, Malia is heard saying: “To answer the question around what is leading people to taking certain actions and joining these groups and wanting to inflict violence, I’d say it surrounds the political climate which we’re in.

“We need to start asking why people feel so desperate that they have to take such actions that they’re not necessarily in a space where such ideas are harnessed or encouraged like in the education system, we might say.

“What is leading particularly young people to feel so kind of disempowered that they’re left with no choice but to go off to Syria or join certain groups?

“And I’d also say we have to look at mass unemployment, the fact that education is being privatised and rendered ever inaccessible, youth centres have been closed down, every service available to support young people to allow space for critical thought and development has been shut down by the state.

“Further to that our foreign policy and the space in which we would discuss and be critical of through the prevent strategy are being monitored and ever watched so that even the utterance of dissent is being policed and criminalised.

“If you want to look at the problem you have to look at the state’s hand.”

Gray Sergeant, National Organiser at Student Rights rejected her comments: “Claiming the privatisation of education and service cuts are responsible for radicalisation misunderstands the problem entirely, and downplays the damaging influence of extremist ideologies on vulnerable people.”

These comments come during a sustained period of controversy for the new NUS President following her victory in a close-fought election in April this year. A number of universities across the UK have voted in NUS referenda or at least expressed their dissatisfaction with the NUS as a result of it’s perceived lack of democracy as well as her “past rhetoric”.

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