Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions

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OBESSU logo.jpg
Full nameOrganising Bureau of European School Student Unions
FoundedApril 1975
AffiliationEuropean Youth Forum
Key peopleEla Jakubek, Secretary General,
Edvardas Vaboulas, Board Member,
Sara Þöll Finnbogadóttir, Board Member,
Rob O'Donnell, Board Member,
Giuseppe Lipari, Board Member,
Office locationBrussels, Belgium

The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) is the European platform for cooperation between the national school student unions in Europe, active in general secondary and secondary vocational education. All member organisations are independent, national, representative and democratic school student unions. The platform currently unites 31 national school student unions from 24 European countries.

OBESSU is a stakeholder formally recognized by the Council of Europe and the European Union and a regular interlocutor with the European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe and UNESCO. OBESSU aims to establish partnership and cooperation between all educational stakeholders. It is a full member of the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) and the European Youth Forum (YFJ), and an associate member of the European Students' Union.


OBESSU was founded in Dublin, Ireland in April 1975 by the national school student unions from the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark), United Kingdom and Ireland. The initial aim of the organisation was to create a pan-European school student organisation that could be a platform for cooperation between the national school student unions. By 1980 the platform added members from Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and West Germany and throughout the next decade expanded its membership in Southern Europe. The organisation was in many ways a result of the will to unite east and west but it took almost 20 years until OBESSU got its first member organisation from the former eastern block.[2]

In 1985 OBESSU and its member organisations declared their support for COSAS (the Congress of the South African Students) in their struggle against the apartheid regime. A study visit to South Africa is planned but cancelled after the regime banned COSAS, forcing all the leaders in the organisation to flee the country or go underground.[3]

In 1987, it was clear that the international initiative was strong in the former east block countries. The organisation IUS (International Union of Students), which had their secretariat in Prague, started to work more with secondary students and in 1987 the first international school student meeting was organised in La Havana where representatives of the OBESSU board and many of OBESSU’s Member Organisations participated. The same year, representatives the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and DDR joined an OBESSU conference in Strasbourg with the aim to establish a more stable contact between the national school student unions in Eastern and Western Europe.

In 1995 OBESSU launched a major project to support the growth of school student unions in central and Eastern Europe. Since the early nineties national organisations have been established in Slovenia, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Hungary. Most of these organisations were unstable, in need of support but then, organisations from Slovenia and Slovakia became members of OBESSU. In 1999 OBESSU launched the UNBASCO project which focused on supporting the stabilisation of school student unions in the Baltic countries, leading to the membership of organisations from Estonia and Lithuania.

In April 2005, the 30th Anniversaire Celebrations of the foundation of OBESSU were celebrated in Dublin, Ireland and hosted by the Union of Secondary Students. On 7 December 2011, OBESSU was awarded the 3rd Civil Society Prize[4] during the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee for the ‘Light on the Rights’ Bus Tour project. The Civil Society Prize highlights outstanding initiatives and flagship projects by civil society organisations that have a positive impact on Europeans’ lives.


OBESSU works in order to:

  • represent the school students as stakeholders of their educational systems, and in issues concerning their lives;
  • provide the national school student unions with assistance and support and to co-operate for the development of school student representative structures;
  • encourage and enable exchange of experience and good practice among the national school students unions;
  • promote equal access to education and to strive for the end of all discrimination and injustice within the educational systems;
  • contribute to the development of democratic educational systems in Europe, that promote active citizenship in all forms;
  • promote solidarity and understanding between young people.


The OBESSU is structured with a General Assembly (GA) as the highest decision making body. The General Assembly meets annually and have authority over the statutes, the political platform and the workplan, as well as electing the Board of OBESSU, the highest decision making body between the GA and Council of Members. The Board is elected annually with overlapping mandates. In this way not all Board members are elected in the same year. The Board consists of 5 members and is responsible for leading and representing the organisation between the General Assemblies.

The current members of the Board are Edvardas Vabuolas (LMS, Lithuania), Sara Þöll Finnbogadóttir (SÍF, Iceland), Giuseppe Lipari (RSM, Italy) and Rob O'Donnell (ISSU, Ireland).

Between every General Assembly there is a Council of Members (COMEM), which is the second highest decision-making body within OBESSU. The Board and the Secretary General coordinate the daily work of the organisation. OBESSU has a European secretariat based in Brussels, in an office it shares with the European Students' Union and other NGOs. Besides the Secretary General, the secretariat consists of a Project Officer and a Communications and Membership Officer.


OBESSU fights for the interests of all school students in Europe, represents its Member Organisations towards the relevant bodies and institutions, acts as a coordinating body for national and regional school student organisations, unions and structures in Europe, organises activities for its member organisations and initiates a dialogue with and between stakeholders in education

OBESSU organises approximately 5 conferences per year[5][6] all dealing with education-related topics. OBESSU also works with its ESU counterparts to promote and coordinate the 17th of November as International Students' Day.


The Member Organisations and Candidate Organisations of OBESSU are:[7]

Country Organisation
 Austria AKS – Aktion Kritischer Schüler_innen
 Belgium VSK – Vlaamse Scholierenkoepel
 Belgium CEF – Comité des Élèves francophones
 Bosnia and Herzegovina ASuBiH – Asocijacija Srednjoškolaca u Bosni i Hercegovini
 Czech Republic CSU – Česká středoškolská unie
 Denmark DGS – Danske Gymnasieelevers Sammenslutning
 Denmark EEO – Erhversskolernes Elev-Organisation
 Denmark LH – Landssammenslutningen af Handelskoleelever
 Estonia ESCU – Estonian School Student Counsils’ Union/Eesti Õpilasomavalitsuste Liit
 Finland FSS – Finlands Svenska Skolungdomsförbund
 Finland SLL – Suomen Lukiolaisten Liitto
 Finland SAKKI – Suomen Ammattiin Opiskelevat
 France UNL – Union Nationale Lycéenne
 Germany SVB – SV-Bildungswerk e.V.
 Iceland SIF – Samband Íslenskra Framhaldsskólanema
 Ireland ISSU – Irish Second-Level Students’ Union
 Italy UDS – Unione degli Studenti
 Italy RSM – Rete degli Studenti Medi
 Kosovo KYC – Kosovar Youth Council
 Lithuania LMS – Lithuanian School Student Union
 Luxembourg UNEL – Union Nationale des Étudiant-e-s du Luxembourg
 Moldova UEM – Uniunea Elevilor din Moldova
 Portugal FNAEBS – Federação Nacional de Associações de Estudantes do Básico e Secundário
 Romania MAKOSZ – Romániai Magyar Középiskolások szövetsége
 Romania CNE – Consiliul Național al Elevilor
 Serbia UNSS – Unija srednjoskolaca Srbije/Union of secondary school students of Serbia
 Slovakia SUS – Stredoškolská študentská únia Slovenska
 Slovenia DOS – Dijaška organizacija Slovenije
 Spain CANAE – Confederación Estatal de Asociaciones de Estudiantes
  Switzerland USO – Union der Schülerorganisationen CH / FL
 Turkey TÖS – Turkish School Student Senate
 United Kingdom NSoA – National Society of Apprentices

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Board - Obessu". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  2. ^ "The history of OBESSU - Obessu". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  3. ^ Beccia G; 2010; ORGANISATIONS ET MOUVEMENTS EUROPÉENS DES ÉTUDIANTS APRÈS 1968: Les cas de l’Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions et de l’European Students’ Union; UNIVERSITÉ LIBRE DE BRUXELLESFaculté de Philosophie et Lettres
  4. ^ "4th edition of the EESC Civil Society Prize". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  5. ^ "OBESSU 38th General Assembly and 4th Summer School «Learn to Change» - LLLP". Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  6. ^ "OBESSU Study Session - "Special Needs": education, participation and social inclusion" (PDF). Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Members". Retrieved 30 November 2016.

External links[edit]