School students say: We need a union

THE OMAGH area has many second level education facilities and thousands of students. These school students need representation to defend their rights.

By Patrick Meehan, Omagh Socialist Youth

This cannot come from within the school in a management controlled system. It must be devoid of teacher intervention and show a common front of many students from different communities.

It is my belief that everyone should be fully aware of their rights and make sure that they can exercise them. In Belfast and other areas teachers and senior management stopped students from exercising their right to protest during the recent Youth Against War demonstrations.

My school has set up a Student Council for the purpose of making it seem that student needs are adhered to. However this Council has shown its complete inability to achieve anything. The Student Council was bypassed when new rules concerning students grooming and hair length in the school were brought in.

The problem is not just its lack of power, it is also the way it was elected. Any candidates looking to stand were filtered by the administration and voting was not open to everyone as Year 8's were deemed unable to appoint their own representative and a member of the staff-selected prefects took the position and others took leading posts without being voted in, such as the Chairman and Secretary of the Council.

I propose for Omagh an alternative organisation - a proper student union - that has the sole purpose of defending students' rights.

This article is from the April 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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