In 2003 school students sent shockwaves through the political establishment when they walked out in their thousands against the Iraq war.
Now the organisation formed out of those protests, School Students Against War (SSAW), is planning coordinated action against the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, this July.
Socialist Worker spoke to SSAW members from London who met last Sunday.
Tom Wills, who is studying for his A levels at a west London school said, “I’m going to Scotland to protest against the G8 — and I think lots of other school students will as well.
“But if they can’t make it there, they should demonstrate in town centres. I hope students will walk out of school.
“In the run up to the G8 they should be holding assemblies to make sure everybody knows about the issues involved. This is a really good opportunity to make our voices heard.
“The government want to forget about the war — SSAW wants to make sure they can’t bury the issue.”
Leila Molana-Allen, another west London school student, said, “This is an important opportunity. All the pro-war leaders will be together in Scotland. We have to make sure they know what we think of them.”
Leila wants to use the protests to highlight the links between the war in Iraq and poverty in the Third World.
“You just need to look at the amount spent on the war to see that the aid being offered now is very little,” she said. “There’s a danger that people will believe what Brown and Blair say — that they are doing what they can to end poverty.
“In reality dropping the debt shouldn’t even be an issue, it should just be done. Then, when they get to Gleneagles, the G8 leaders could focus on helping the poorest countries.”
South London school student Iain Taylor has been involved in the SSAW campaign. He said, “There is a protest in Parliament Square on the 6 July. Lots of students won’t be able to make it up to Scotland — so they can make their voices heard in London.
“We’ve been holding stalls outside schools and the response has been really great. We’ve been handing out a leaflet with the Bob Geldof quote saying that kids should bunk off school.
“There’s quite an atmosphere in schools. This whole campaign has got a lot of people thinking about what should be done and what we can do.”
Alys Elica Zaerin, a student in north London and the convenor of SSAW, is unimpressed by last Saturday’s announcement on debt relief.
She said, “The headline figure of £22 billion sounds like a lot of money, but shared between 18 countries it works out to less than 50p per person per month.
“Can the G8 really claim to be serious about ending poverty when you compare that to the $176 billion America spent on the Iraq war?
“Last Saturday’s announcement is a reminder that we still need to protest as loudly as possible if we want more than token gestures from the government.
“About 20 people came to our SSAW meeting in London last Sunday. We have phone numbers for about 300 more who want to get involved.”
The students have set up an electronic pledge where pupils can declare their intention to protest. School students can sign the pledge online or by text message.
Text the words “PLEDGE WALKOUT” to 60022 or go to www.pledgebank.com/walkout