Teens to quiz Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during 2007 Government Leaders Forum

29/01/2007

Young people from across Europe and Scotland will take part in the prestigious Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Europe, taking place this week at the Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament, Microsoft and Young Scot with support from the Scottish Executive have arranged for a team of 14 to have the chance to fully participate in the Forum and quiz Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. The young people will also meet other delegates to discuss the impact e-democracy has and can have on their lives.

Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer George Reid MSP thinks the involvement of youth in the multinational event is essential.

He said: "At the Forum, I’m delighted that the Scottish Parliament will be able to demonstrate how it has engaged the youth of the country in debate – and I’m even more delighted that some of these 21st Century citizens will be able to put questions to the Chairman of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates.

"There is still a belief that today’s young people are not interested in politics but that is certainly not my experience. What the youth of today are passionate about are issues - not political systems or affiliations.

"Reflecting the concerns of today’s young people and making them feel involved as 21 st century citizens will bring with it unique challenges, but with technology and effort on all sides, we can build a strong democracy for the future and lead by example to other countries as well.”

The young people, selected from across Scotland and Poland, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands will:

  • Participate in pre-conference questionnaire via the e-petition system
  • Attend the Welcome Reception for an opportunity to meet the other delegates
  • Observe the Opening Ceremony and the e-democracy plenary
  • Participate in the e-democracy discussion forum
  • Participate in a post event discussion – and feed in comments for the speech that will be given by Gerri Elliot, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Microsoft International on the Wednesday morning
  • Observe the final two plenaries and provide at least one of the questions for the Bill Gates session.

The young people were chosen for their interests in various youth organisations across the country including the Scottish Youth Parliament. Amongst those attending from Scotland are:

Callum Birks, 17, from Edinburgh

Rajiv Joshi, 22, from Glasgow (Youth Parliament)

Hilary Lynn, 19, from Glasgow (Youth Parliament)

Johnpaul McCabe, 18, from Johnstone

Rachel McCullough, 17, from Arbroath

Jamie O’Neill, 20, from Glasgow

Craig Peoples, 19, from Stirling

Ryan Smith, 17, from Cunningsburgh

Raymond O’Hare, Director, Microsoft Scotland said:

"Technology is helping to keep the youth of today involved in issues that matter to them.

"Young people are using technology in incredibly inventive ways to stay informed about what is going on in their worlds.

"It may seem strange to older people, but for younger generations, e-petitions, blogs, websites, instant messaging and other tools are all ways of spreading discussion on what matters to them.

"For example, e-petitions can be quickly set up and people can log in to add their support or add comments within minutes. In days gone by, that same process would have taken weeks.

“The Scottish Parliament is to be commended for its work in pushing technology to open up the democratic landscape to make sure it is inclusive for all.”

CEO of Young Scot, the national youth information agency, Louise Macdonald added:

"The Microsoft conference will place young people at the heart of a debate concerning matters relevant to their lives and this is an amazing opportunity for Scotland ’s young people, and one we think will prove invaluable.

"In order for them to take their place as active citizens, young people must be included in such discussions and we are extremely pleased to be able to offer young people this opportunity, particularly with such leading lights in the world of politics and information technology attending the event. “

A number of the young Scots are willing to be interviewed and this can be organised through the Parliament’s Media Relations Office, contact details follow.

Youth programme information

The Scottish Parliament, Microsoft and Young Scot with support from the Scottish Executive have arranged for the young people from across Europe and Scotland to participate in the prestigious Government Leaders Forum, taking place next week at the Parliament.

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