The Tunisian High School Student Council
I- Historical introduction
The student council (or student body) has been around since 1917. It is an extracurricular activity for students within elementary and secondary schools around the world. Its work consists mainly of working in cooperation with the school administration to organize events, discuss school policy (budget, strategies…) as well as direct and fund clubs. However, our experience, and the experience of other students around the country shows that this is not possible in the present time in Tunisia, due to our administrations’ lack of cooperation, not to mention the lack of funding.
Therefore, we modified the concept, keeping its core ideas and goals while changing its mechanisms to make it quite applicable in the average Tunisian high school.
Our version of the council is mainly composed of two parts; the directive branch and the clubs.
Each one is partially independent. Each encompasses a certain field of interest. These can range from drama, music, painting to STEM, press, literature…etc.
These clubs are usually directed by teachers on site in other countries. However, we envision these clubs to be run mainly students, as well as volunteers from specialized organizations and, if they can commit, specialized teachers.
The purpose of running the clubs this way is to give students more leadership opportunities and space for creativity. By giving students full control they would reach their full creative potential, and also be able to come up with activities that would interest their fellow students. This is much easier achieved when students, not teachers, run the clubs.
These clubs in general, work on 2 main axis: Talent development and community development. They provide students with training sessions to enhance their skills, and a space where they could practice those skills. They also create a community; an open, friendly space where like-minded students can meet, discuss issues, collaborate and help each other become better actors, singers, programmers… depending on the club’s nature.
The directive branch:
Its job is to handle all the paperwork and supply all the funding and logistics (needed material, contact club coordinators… etc.) for the clubs.
The directive branch facilitates communication between the clubs, the school’s administration and other organizations. It promotes the club’s activities using many means, notably organizing large-scale events.
Although clubs do organize events with limited cooperation with the directive branch, larger-scale programs are organized by members of the council as a whole, possibly from different clubs at once, under full direction from the directive branch.
These events are made to promote scientific, cultural and athletic communities on a larger scope. They can also be directed to promote certain causes, or fund-raisers for the student body. The council also participates in volunteer work (cleaning campaigns, community service… etc.). It also helps students going through hard circumstances and those of them who have special needs.
III- The Composition
The student council would be laid out like students councils in other countries, with a president, VP, treasurer, deputy treasurer, general secretary and deputy general secretary. These would form the directive branch and would be assigned by the president who would be elected every year by all the council’s members.
Each club would also have a president, VP and a treasurer. These would also be assigned by the president who would be elected by the club’s members every year.
This is to create order, and ease of communication and task handling in the council. Ultimately, it would lead to engraving the values of democracy and order in the council’s members
IV- The Goals
In short, the student council promotes talents, entrepreneurship and leadership. It also creates awareness in the community. It achieves that by creating a framework that promotes creativity. It makes students more aware of their responsibility to contribute to changing their community for the better, and of their capability to do so.
V- The Experiment
We have been executing, to a certain extent, this model of the student body in the Pioneer High School of Gabes in the last two academic years. We are seeing great results and fast developments, especially when it comes to club and event-execution. Nevertheless, our vision for the council is not yet complete.
VI- The Stats
We ran few surveys to know how effective this model of the student council is. The following are some of the results:
– 87% of the students are satisfied with the work being done by the student council
– 91% of teachers are satisfied with the work being done by the student council
– 71% of student are satisfied with implemented model of the student council
– 85% of teachers are satisfied with implemented model of the student council
– 97% of members of the student council say that their experience in it was beneficial
– 84% of all those who took part in this survey (students and teachers) think this model should be applied in other schools in Tunisia.
VII- The Conclusion
Our goal is to promote community service in all possible ways whether it is cleaning a street, organizing an event to deal with an important issue or sharing knowledge with others. That will make young Tunisians active, or more active, in civil society. We also hope that every high school in Tunisia will have its own student body soon. This will be through contacting students around the country to launch their own student council and showcasing the idea in different regions, creating a domino effect that would perpetuate throughout the country.
Our vision is that all capable high schools in the country would have an active student council by this model in the next 7 years. We believe we can make that vision a reality.