The Commonwealth Caribbean region is vast and stretches from Canada in North American to Guyana in South America. This region is composed of thirteen (13) independent territories of the 54 Commonwealth Counties that form the inter-governmental organisation called the Commonwealth of Nations.

The population of this region is approximately 40 million and is spread between Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago. There are also six (6) British Overseas Territories (British Dependencies) which are in the Caribbean region however these territories are not recognized as Commonwealth countries.

These countries are Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands with a combined population of approximately 200,000. Although the Overseas Territories are British, they have a Caribbean curriculum and operate under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) framework with the one (1) exception of Bermuda.

In the Caribbean region there are National Youth Councils/Associations in the following territories; Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. All of these national youth representative bodies form the Regional Youth Body which is currently called the Regional youth Caucus but as of September 2013 it will be called the Caribbean Youth Council.

This body represents youth issues, youth views and youth concerns whilst advocating and lobbying on their behalf. However, there are only two (2) student representative bodies in the Caribbean region namely the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students (JUTS) and the National Secondary Students’ Council (NSSC)-both of which are found in Jamaica. There is no regional student representative body in the Caribbean region, however, the Commonwealth Students’ Association has recently been formed and is working towards forming National and Regional Students’ Association/Bodies. These student bodies would represent student issues which are distinctly different from youth issues and are also focused on and linked to education concerns.

At the 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (17CCEM) in Malaysia in June 2009, students stressed the need for greater focus to be given to the role they should take in the decision making processes of the Commonwealth. The student delegates also recommended that the “Commonwealth [should] develop standards for the governing of student bodies and organizations”, thus making it the remit of the commonwealth Secretariat and the CYP to support the strengthening of student youth organizations.

As such regional consultations were held in each Commonwealth Region (Africa-in Cameroon, Asia-in India, Caribbean-in Guyana and Pacific-in ) to get feedback and to hear from the students (on the ground) within the regions as to what they want and how they want their student representative body to operate. The Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA) was formed at the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (18CCEM) in Mauritius in August 2013. Two representatives from each of the four (4) regions plus a chairman were elected at the gathering.

In addition, two advisors were selected to provide guidance and assistance in ensuring that the CSA met its aims, mission, goals and objectives. Apart from the CSA being duty bound to form national student bodies in every commonwealth country within their region, the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA) is the coalescence of the student organisations within the Commonwealth. Their role is to be an independent advocate of students throughout the Commonwealth which brings student concerns to the forefront of educational development. The CSA will engage and empower students in an effort to influence key education decisions and policies at different levels in the Commonwealth. The CSA will represent, advocate and build capacities of students and students’ organizations across the Commonwealth. It will be a credible voice and a valued partner in effecting change in education and empowering students to contribute effectively to development in their societies.