Jack and Maha representing the views of Limerick secondary students

Limerick Students Union representatives Maha Shahzadi and Jack Nealon.

JACK Nealon from Mungret Community College and Maha Shahzadi from Coláiste Nano Nagle have been elected as the Limerick Regional Officers of the Irish Students’ Union, the national body for second-level student councils.

Along with 44 other post-primary students from across the country, they will work with local TDs and county councillors to represent the interests of more than 7,500 second-level students from Limerick on a national level.

Jack, who is a fifth year student, says that the environment and the future of secondary students are his main priority as well as working on behalf of the most vulnerable students in the education system.

“The environment is the foundation of society and to destroy it would be beyond foolish. Although change is required at a far higher level, secondary students can still make a change for their local community. Cycling to school and reducing food wastage are simple things we can do to better our future as students,” he explains.

Transition year student Maha is enthusiastic about advocating for diversity and inclusion in schools and believes that acceptance of other cultures, races and religious beliefs is vital for a peaceful tomorrow.

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“Everyone has a right to education. Our schools must be a place for all, regardless of their background, religious beliefs, skin colour or gender identity. It is unfortunate that some schools still operate on a set of conservative rules which favours certain students over others.

“No student should face discrimination and must have the freedom of expression and religious liberty in school,” she says.

Both Jack and Maha are passionate about amplifying young people’s voices.

“Young people are much more aware of the problems that plague their future. They no longer want to sit back and watch. They want to be heard and have their say on issues that affect them,” they say.

The Students’ Union has played a central role in many of the decisions made around schools and exams during Covid and both Jack and Maha want to ensure that student voices are heard at local level.