OBESSU would like to introduce the new Candidate Organisation Comité des Élèves Francophones (CEF) from Belgium!

We are very glad to welcome CEF and looking forward to cooperating with them. They will be present at the upcoming Study Session “Welcome to Education: All included!” representing the French-speaking school students from Belgium.

Welcome to OBESSUland!

We asked CEF to answer a few questions to give the platform a picture of what they are doing and what CEF is.

Tell us a bit about the CEF

According to the Belgian law and to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, students should take part in decision processes affecting themselves. We must regret that these nice words are not properly implemented in the current reality.

In the Belgian French-speaking community, school students got organised to defend their rights, to make their voice heard and to foster a change in this sense. Unfortunately, it has never really occurred to have Ministers of Education taking school students’ opinions into account.  

In the late 2000s, some students from Liège decided to bring their activities to national level. Joined by other school students from all over the French speaking Community, in 2009 they formally created CEF as the representative organisation for all the French-speaking school students.

Since then, CEF has been continually growing and has gained credibility, both at school level and with policy makers. Our next challenge is to have a formal recognition of the obligation to involve school students in all decisions affecting them at all educational levels.

What are the main educational struggles of young people in Belgium?

There are many of them! If I have to mention only two, I would say the fight against inequalities and the participation of students in the decision-making processes affecting them.

The French-speaking part of Belgium holds an unfortunate record. Our system is one of the most unequal in the world, according to the latest PISA studies. We need a profound change in the system, because the school today replicates social inequalities and makes them even worse!

Our Minister of Education has launched a huge reform: "Le Pacte pour un Enseignement d’excellence" (Agreement for Excellence in Education) which aim on fighting inequalities. All CEF members have great expectations about this reform because we really have to change the whole system: the way of teaching, the subjects that are taught, the way schools are organised and much more. All students must have access to the same opportunities!

We strongly believe that students should have a voice in all the matters related to school. Students are the best experts in education. They go to school for at least 12 years, being at the centre of the learning process. So we do not get why decision-makers continue not to ask our opinion! We have demonstrated in different reports that students have a lot to say and to bring into the debates!

According to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 12:

"1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.”

The actual mechanisms for delegating students in schools today (when they exist…) are not sufficient to guarantee the practical implementation of these rights in schools, and even less when it comes to higher levels of decision-making.

What is the motivation behind your interest to join OBESSU?

CEF wanted to become part of OBESSU for many reasons. First, because only half of the Belgian school students were represented in the platform (the Flemish part, thanks to VSK) and therefore the French speaking part was not represented at European level yet.

Second point, CEF has a lot of expertise (despite its young age) about education and youth in general and we think we could bring some fresh ideas to the organisation.

Third, we hope that OBESSU will support us and it will be a great source of inspiration. We are very looking forward to cooperating with different organizations and many motivated school students from all over Europe.

Anything you look forward to or expect to about the upcoming join initiatives with OBESSU?

Yes! For us, it is important to develop our network and our partnerships. We also expect a lot of exchanges of good practices and ideas for developing our further activities.

We also hope that it will help CEF members to develop their capacities and abilities to follow the topics at European and international level. And, of course, we expect them to have lot of fun!

If you want to learn more about CEF, please find more details on our website.