We must admit, after all these years, that one of the nicest traditions in OBESSU is going to Budapest during springtime to have our Study Session in the European Youth Centre of the Council of Europe (CoE). This year we had an easy message to spread: “Welcome to education: ALL included!’ The answer on how to overcome barriers that thousands of school students are facing every day however is not that easy. This is why we decided to bring together 35 young representatives of our national school student unions to explore the topic and to see what we can do to have everyone included (Budapest, 5-11 March).

With the support of the Council of Europe and according with our values we started from a human rights framework, trying to define what social inclusion and social exclusion exactly mean. As the scope was very broad, the preparation team identified three key areas of social exclusion to be analysed in depth during the Study Session: sexuality and gender, migrants and refugees and disabilities and mental health. These three areas, which have not been explored enough in OBESSU so far, will be taken into consideration in the near future and they will be one of the core topics of the upcoming OBESSU activities. For this reason, the event was an excellent entry point for further exploration!

To ensure the learning of the group, all the learning outcomes were put together in an “activist magazine”, that we called IncluZine. Everyone paired up in teams of two or three and dedicated to one specific session. Through techniques of graphic facilitation, every team created one flipchart. It turned out to be a marvellous “magazine” with strong content and a creative outlook. You will have a chance to have a look into it and learn from it after we finish the editing and get the green light from the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, as this will be an official publication!

Throughout the week, our participants had the opportunity to work a lot in analysing their personal learning and graphic skills. Other examples of capacity building during the event were the successful sessions on how to write policy papers and designing educational activities. What was the major outcome of the Study Session? We can proudly say that after six days of hard work, OBESSU turned a group of 35 school students into a team of competent activists for social inclusion!

All in all the week was a very good experience for both the team and the participants. OBESSU will keep fighting for social inclusion in education, because everyone has the right to have quality education! We will, more than before, have better understanding of the barriers that sexuality and gender, mental health and disabilities and migrants and refugee minorities are facing.

OBESSU wants to thank all the participants for the fruitful contributions and ideas. Now it is up to them to spread their knowledge and share their skills to advocate for social inclusion and maybe even more to ensure social inclusion within their own school student unions!

Written by Ferre Windey, OBESSU Board member