The Commonwealth has launched a toolkit to empower students to form national associations and unions in order to be able to influence education policies in their own countries
The Commonwealth has launched a toolkit to empower students to form national associations and unions in order to be able to influence education policies in their own countries.
The publication, called `Building our Future – A Toolkit for Student Representation’, was launched by Secretary-General Patricia Scotland during the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA) meeting at the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) in Nadi, Fiji.
It was produced following an extensive study commissioned by the CSA and Secretariat at the 18th CCEM in Mauritius in 2012, which found that 51% of member states did not have recognised national student organisations.
The toolkit includes sections on governance, finance and advocacy and is based on the Commonwealth principles and values.
According to a spokesperson from the Secretariat’s social policy section, Layne Robinson, the toolkit was tested in Kenya in 2017 and is intended to help any youth organisation, not just student bodies.
Robinson added: “We have students who are very antagonistic towards their government, and that often makes it more difficult for them to meet to discuss an important educational issue.
“What this toolkit suggests is the use of the Commonwealth approach of dialogue and discourse, sitting down at the table together and building a consensus.
“This is important because students are the main stakeholders in education and if they don’t engage with leaders in a constructive way, changing the nature of the power dynamics, we will miss out on their contribution to decision making.”
Alongside the toolkit, Secretary-General Scotland also launched the CSA’s new website and officiated at the inauguration of a team of student leaders who took their oaths of office.
At the ceremony, she said: “This is a historic and very important moment because we’ve just sworn in your new leadership team.
“What each of the young leaders you have chosen is demonstrating is that they are not only courageous enough to speak on your behalf, but also to speak truth to power.”
Dr Maisha Reza, the new Chair of the CSA, gave the vote of thanks, saying: “We aim to unite student organisations, build capacities and produce opportunities for student leaders to explore and address issues within the fields of global development as well as education.
“We would like to affirm our commitment, our dedication, and passion in amplifying your voices to government and have you at the decision-making table.
“We are all immensely talented and immensely passionate people… when we come together, aligned towards a common vision, we become that fire of change that we want to see.”
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