17th November marks the International Students Day. As we commemorate this day, the Commonwealth Students Association calls for deeper investment in education and for student voices to be taken seriously by political leaders and policy formulators. 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30; and a significant number of those young people are students.  Students are major stakeholders in not only the education sector but also all aspects of the state that affect their future, and for far too long they have not been meaningfully engaged in the development and implementation of policies that affect them. This is contrary to the article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes provision for young people to be included in decision making processes.  It is time for change.

The recent Youth Development Report released by the Commonwealth has shown massive disparity in youth chances across Commonwealth countries. As mentioned in the report, “the YDI is a useful tool for us to compare our government’s investments in youth with outcomes attained. Students organizing internationally gives us opportunity to highlight educational disparity.


Ironically, more youth are losing out too in these countries – as they have more young people!

Our message today on students’ day is clear; surely those countries with more youth should have more investment in education. But the opposite seems to be the case.


But critical still is education, as Maxwell Dlamini says, President of the University of Swaziland and recently arrested without charge for engaging in pro-democracy protests; “It is a duty and responsibility of each and every government to make sure that students are awarded scholarships loans to be able to further their education in institution of higher learning. The subsidy in education is surely in the best interest of the country at large as it means that education can be obtained by each and everyone who qualifies to do so. The privatization and commoditization of education must be rejected at all costs. Education must be accessible and affordable to all young people.”

As student leader Ms. Jamal Talagi says, President of the Pacific Students’ Association, “When you compare my country, Niue, to others in our region, the inequality in education is stark. That’s why it’s great we’re working with student leaders, like New Zealand and other countries all over the world in building the CSA. We need a voice and a seat at the table at where decisions affecting young people and students are taken. Currently we are not being given this opportunity”.

As an example of engagement, this International Students Day, the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA) will be celebrating a two-day event this weekend in Mbale, Uganda. Senior government officials are expected to attend and among the items of discussion and debate will be students as leaders and ideological transformation in education.

This is exactly the sort of thing students need to be doing, organizing to build power and create change.

But we need change to make this happen, we need to organize internationally to challenge educational disparity because if we don’t future generations will suffer.

Join us! Contact us and join the movement today!

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