Greetings from ISSU – the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union. They are gearing up for a very busy few months here in the student union, most notably with their Regional Councils taking place in mid November across the country. All this sounds well and good you may say, but what exactly is the Irish Second- Level Students’ Union, and what do they do?
Well, they are the national representative body for student councils in Ireland and therefore, for all students in the Irish education system. They work closely with the Department of Education and other stakeholders and our core objective is to promote student voice and students’ rights in second-level education.
All of them working in ISSU are students who are passionate about having a say in school and education matters which affect us. Why should we not have a say in matters which directly affect our daily lives? Why should our opinions not be taken into account? There are over 300,000 second-level students in Ireland, a majority of whom cannot vote, and we aim to represent these people on an official, structured level.
If any of this sounds interesting to you or you would like to get involved, they have a lot of opportunities coming up this year. Their four Regional Councils covering Dublin, Leinster, Munster and Connaught & Ulster will be taking place in mid-November in Dublin, Cork and Sligo. These full day events will include presentations and workshops on youth empowerment, effective and democratic student councils and will end with elections onto our panels. If you are passionate about Welfare & Equality or just Education in general, they have a panel for both of these topics. Elections to the National Council of Schools will also take place on these days, which will involve working for the next year in ISSU.
They will also soon be launching our campaign to combat the use of homophobic and transphobic language in schools. With the passing of the Marriage Equality referendum Ireland has turned a new leaf and set a fantastic example of tolerance and acceptance on the global stage. They are aiming to build on this and make the students of Ireland more aware of what they are saying and who it may affect.
Daily ISSU work includes attending meetings with stakeholders, conferences and representing
student voice in the media. They are active members of OBESSU, the representative body for second-level students at European level, and contribute often to their work. They also offer school visits and student council training and we aim to be as non-formal as possible, meaning no boring presentations as you fall asleep in the back row of the classroom! They offer all these services for FREE, so feel free to contact them or tell your student council about what they can offer.
ISSU Membership is also FREE and open to all democratically-elected student councils. With ISSU membership, student councils are entitled to attend their events, vote in their elections and get the benefit of networking with other students and sharing ideas about what a student council can really do and achieve. For any individuals interested in running for a position in the organisation, I cannot describe how much satisfaction and experience you get from working in a movement like this. ISSU is for every type of student, as they represent every student. They want to help you and share our resources in whatever way they can. There is so much going on in Irish education at the moment, and NOW is the time to be heard and have our say. Collectively, they can do exactly this, and implement change that will really matter.