The history of OBESSU
When OBESSU was founded in Ireland 1975 by the national school student unions from the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark), United Kingdom and Ireland, the aim of the organisation was to create an all European school student organisation that could be a platform for cooperation between the national school student unions.
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 east block.
During the eighties there was a general boom in Europe for international work and international solidarity not only in the political sphere but also in the cultural (expressed, among else, through happenings such as “band aid” and “live aid”). This also affected OBESSU which during these years was involved in a lot of international work.
Much of the exchange and the work of OBESSU have always been organised through conferences and seminars. At least one conference was organised every year since the founding of the organisation and from the mid nineties, when the OBESSU secretariat in Amsterdam was established, the number of conferences organised have been increasing radically (during 2006, 5 conferences were held).
With the development of the European Union the debate on educational policy on the European level have increased immensely. This motivates an increased European cooperation between the national school student unions which will demand more from OBESSU; a challenge we gladly accept!
- 1975 OBESSU is founded on Ireland by national school student unions from the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark), United Kingdom and Ireland.
- 1976-1980 Organisations from Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and West Germany join OBESSU.
- 1982 The national school student union of France, Union Nationale des Étudiants Lycéens (UNL), joins OBESSU.
- 1984 OBESSU organises a seminar on school student solidarity campaigns. This seminar results in the Nordic countries organising a joint Operation Dayswork for the school students in El Salvador. The campaign was one of the biggest single donations to the country during their 12 years of civil war.
- 1985 OBESSU organises a conference on school student structures in southern Europe. This is the first time representatives from Spain, Portugal and Malta are participating in an OBESSU event.
- 1985 OBESSU and its member organisations state 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 since the regime have banned COSAS and all the leaders in the organisation have been forced to flee the country or go underground.
- 1987 The international initiative was also strong in the former east block countries. The organisation IUS (International Union of Students), that 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.
- 1987 Representatives from USSR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and DDR participate in an OBESSU conference in Strasbourg. The conference’s aim is to establish a more stable contact between the national school student unions in Eastern and Western Europe.
- 1991 OBESSU starts a project called ESSE (European School Student Exchange). ESSE is planned to be a non-profit exchange program by students for students.
- 1994 The OBESSU project “All rights included” was kicked off through a conference in Copenhagen. The aim of the project was to create a European student rights charter ratified by all governments.
- 1995 OBESSU gets an office of its own in Amsterdam. Before this different member organisations were hosting the OBESSU secretariat depending on where the Secretary General lived.
- 1995 OBESSU launches a major project for supporting 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. Since then, DOS (Slovenia), SUS (Slovakia), USM (FYRM) and have become full members of OBESSU.
- 1999 OBESSU launches the UNBASCO project which focuses at supporting the stabilization of school student unions in the Baltic States. Today OBESSU have member organisations in both Estonia (ESCU) and Lithuania (LMS).
- 2001 OBESSU adopts the first political platform on educational and school student related policy. Before this OBESSU’s political work had been regulated through single one-issue-declarations and resolutions adopted on OBESSU events.
- 2003 OBESSU starts a project which aims at supporting the growth of school student structures in South Eastern Europe. Today, OBESSU counts members in the Serbia (UNSS) and in Bosnia Herzegovina (ASuBiH).
- 2005 The first European School Student Convention took place from 14th to 18th of December in Campobasso, Italy, aiming at building strategies and giving policical visions to OBESSU. 2005 also marked the 30th anniversary of the Bureau.
- 2006 The first COMEM (Council of Members) of OBESSU met during the 2nd European School Student Convention in Helsinki in December. The members decided on internal regulations and the Workplan for 2007-2008.
- 2006 OBESSU is recognized by the Council of Europe as the official representative for the school students on the European level.
- 11 November 2006 OBESSU becomes Full Member of the European Youth Forum.
- 2007 OBESSU launches the ”Too Cool for School” (TCFS) campaign, in the framework of the campaign “All Different – All Equal” for the promotion of social inclusion and diversity in schools. OBESSU believes schools should reflect the diversity of the surrounding society and they should act against racism, intolerance and exclusion.
- 2010 OBESSU organises its first European School Student Summer School in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by ASuBiH.
- 7 December 2011 OBESSU was awarded the 3rd Civil Society Prize during the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for the ‘Light on the Rights’ Bus Tour project.