British Columbia

22-year-old university student elected chair of Sooke School District

Six years ago, Ravi Parmar was a high school student calling on the Sooke School District for change. Now, the 22-year-old is chair of that board — and the youngest person in B.C. to hold such a position.

Ravi Parmar will be youngest person to chair a school board in the province

22-year-old Ravi Parmar replaces Bob Phillips as chair of School District 62 in Sooke. (Ravi Parmar/Facebook)

Six years ago, Ravi Parmar was a Belmont high school student calling on the Sooke School District for change. Now, the 22-year-old is chair of that board — and the youngest person in B.C. to hold such a position.

Parmar is still completing his university studies but says he is not worried about balancing the roles of student and education policy-maker.

His perspective as a young person and student is valuable to the board, he told CBC host of All Points West Jason D'Souza.

"Having a youth perspective is really important," Parmar said. "Young people should be involved in decision making, especially at a school board level where the decisions we make affect young people."

Drawing on past experience

Parmar has been a trustee on the board of School District 62 for the past two years. When he first joined the board, people asked him why he wasn't out partying and enjoying university life like his classmates, but his interests have always been in public policy and politics.

"If you have the passion and the drive, that plays a large role," he explained. "I wanted to go to board meetings. That's what I spent my grade 11 and 12 years doing."

Parmar added education is especially important to him because of his own family's experience in Canada.

"My parents immigrated to Canada in the 1990s," he said."They sent me to a public school to learn English. I was an ESL student, and whatever I learned from the school it would be something that I would take home and pass that knowledge on to them."

Parmar completed primary school through high school graduation in the Sooke School District. He said he is looking forward to giving back.

Challenges to come

The biggest challenge the board will face in the coming years, he said, will be the need to open more schools as the district's population steadily rises.

"We definitely want to be a growing district," he said. "We're wanting to open schools and some of the tough decisions that are coming forward are finding land for those schools."

Parmar replaces Bob Phillips, who announced his resignation in May.

To listen to the interview with Ravi Parmar, click on the audio link below:

With files from All Points West.

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