Mission

Networking

The GSF is a platform for student organisations to exchange ideas, practices and tactics. It allows us as student movements and grassroots activists from around the world to build relationships and networks with like minded organizations and natural allies such as teachers and trade unions.

Solidarity

The GSF amplifies the struggles of student organisations and movements around the world, whether campaigns against rising costs for education or violence in our institutions. It draws attention to student movements where they face political repression, discrimination and police brutality.

It enables us, as student activists and leaders, to connect with our counterparts in other countries, lessening our sense of isolation and building solidarity. In this way, it is mutually empowering and acts as a beacon in the darkness for students facing social injustice and rights abuses.

Capacity Building

The GSF builds the capacity of student organisations and movements where they are weak or nascent. It organises training sessions and exchanges through which we can learn from each other and strengthen our work.

The overarching objective is to establish a culture that ensures the sustainable transfer of knowledge and preservation of organisational memory within student movements, so we can bridge the gaps caused by a high turnover of activists and leaders.

Cooperation

The GSF is a platform for student movements to work together on issues of common concern. It facilitates the engagement of genuine, representative and legitimate student organisations and movements with the institutional framework of the United Nations and UNESCO specifically.

Special attention is being paid to the ongoing discourse on sustainable development, financing of education as well as the democratisation and accountability of governance structures.

Analysis and Strategy

The GSF provides a space for student organisations and movements for research, analysis and strategy development on contemporary issues and changes in student governance and education systems. The GSF promotes strategies for effective student responses to societal and education issues.

Advocacy

The GSF strengthens and amplifies the voice of student organisations and movements on the global level by engaging in advocacy issues and lobby work on behalf of its membership.

With a strong emphasis on formal and informal international decision making spaces, it combats practises of tokenism and cherry picking to ensure fair and legitimate representation of students on the global level. Informed by the first hand experience of its constituency, it provides space for genuine dialogue with the overarching aim to influence policy outcomes.

Values

Education

We affirm that education is a fundamental and universal right. Education has played a key role in the development of countries. Students are key constituents and creators of education planning and development. When we defend the right to free, publicly funded, high quality, education, we defend the rights of intellectual freedom and people’s desire for equal social and economic opportunity.

Feminism

We understand that feminist politics in student organisations and movements are important for political, economic, personal, and social equality. We recognise the rights of women and girls and stand together with all people because our struggles are interconnected and we are resolute in our fight to uphold the rights of people in every country.

Environmental Justice

Science clearly shows that the current way of living is not sustainable. Climate change caused by human activity, over-consumption of natural resources, mass extinction of species, lasting damages caused by pollution and persisting social injustices are well documented.

As ecologists, we are fighting the destruction of the planet and working towards a safe and dignified life for our species in the future. 

Democracy

We are united by the beliefs that democratic, representative and independent student movements are essential and that they should be able to operate without repression. We are fighting for free, public, accountable education that guarantees equal opportunity for everyone without discrimination.

We campaign against segregation and defend the rights of the marginalised. We are against war as a means of resolving conflict and are using solidarity as a way to build peace; and we stand for the human rights of the displaced, migrants and people forced to live under occupation.

Human Rights and Solidarity

We come together to urgently develop solidarity and collaboration, in order to achieve educational justice and as allies in a wider struggle for democracy, social justice and human rights.

We do so by building a platform that practices democratic values itself, energising our collective action and building democracy through our own horizontal structure, putting the aspirations and needs of student representative bodies at the forefront of our work. We are committed to serving established student organisations and networks but also to incubating and supporting new groups as they arise.

Global Cooperation

Our cooperation is based on shared values which direct the way we work and what we want to achieve. As student movements, we share a common fight for meaningful participation in the decisions that shape our lives, the future of the societies we live in and the planet we live on.

Political Priorities

The Steering Committee of the Global Student Forum has identified eight political priorities as key to advancing its objectives and achieving its mission. 

COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected education systems globally through nationwide school closures. The economic fallout of COVID-19 has also exacerbated social and economic inequalities in the lives of students and transformed the operations and mobilisations of student organisations and movements. This multidimensional crisis affects the vulnerable hardest, including but not limited to migrants and displaced people, the socio-economically disadvantaged and victims of gender-based violence, compounding issues they already face.

Student organisations and movements have to adapt to the daily changing public health and education reality. From a student perspective, it is crucial to monitor the impact of the pandemic on students, engaging student organisations and movements in their campaigns to prioritise the role of students in national, regional and global decision-making and share effective policy responses for an equal and just educational recovery. 

Democracy, Human Rights and Solidarity

As founding principles of the Global Student Forum, democracy, human rights and solidarity represent an integral part of the platform’s work. Even before COVID-19, student organisations and movements urgently needed an effective mechanism for collaboration and solidarity to scale local and regional actions to the global level. The pandemic has allowed authoritarian leaders, and those democratic governments with an increasingly authoritarian disposition to exploit the crisis to consolidate their power and crush dissent.

Independent, democratic student structures have been under particular attack around the world of late and the present climate of surveillance, disinformation and police brutality enhances the threat to democracy and human rights. To this end, the GSF will organise around the values of democracy, human rights and solidarity and create critical communication mechanisms for independent student journalism to facilitate these efforts. Independent student journalism should encompass a rights-based approach to the Sustainable Development Goals by critically monitoring their implementation and giving them relevance throughout the different working areas of the platform.

Quality Education for All

Education is a core institution of our society and one of the main pillars of sustainable social and economic development. Education plays a central role in the democratic empowerment and advancement of the general well-being of people in societies through acquiring and passing on cultural and intellectual heritage. Education is a fundamental human right guaranteed in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It is a public good, public responsibility, and therefore should be publicly steered and funded in order to not become subject to economic speculation and victim to the ideologies of privatisation and the shrinking of the state while serving short-term goals of the labour market. It needs to provide learners with the chance to acquire competence and understanding, as well as democratic values and language skills that are essential in our globalised world.  Solidarity, responsibility, diversity and cooperation should be the main concerns in the development of  educational institutions, shaping the increasingly connected future we will be living in.

Environmental Justice

Climate change and its effects on the environment represents the most fundamental existential challenge in human history. Science clearly shows that the current way of living is not sustainable. Global warming, caused by human activity, over-consumption of natural resources, mass extinction of species, lasting damages caused by pollution and persisting social injustices are well documented. Without a radical transformation process, we will continue to compromise the prospects of future generations. The Global Student Forum is aware of the necessity to take responsibility, but it can not solve the problems alone. Urgent action from education institutions, corporations and policy makers on all levels is needed.

Equality

Differences in regional development and the unequal distribution of resources globally produce economic inequalities. These inequalities influence student participation in education and education itself. In 2020, the world faces one of the worst economic downturns in light of the public health crisis and economic shocks related to COVID-19. The need to guarantee economic protections for the most marginalised and vulnerable is urgent.

Expanding government funding for education is necessary but insufficient without a wider analysis and contribution to the global dialogue on economic fairness and equality. Issues such as global wealth inequality, fair taxation regimes, gender disparities in pay and the right to organise in unions are important to the Global Student Forum’s visions for an economically just world.

Gender Justice

Gender-based inequality and discrimination are global and do not stop at the doorsteps of educational institutions or student organisations. Misogyny, psychological, economic, verbal and physical (including sexual) violence are still shaping the lived reality of many womxn and girls in and outside of education. The glass ceiling narrative stretches throughout all levels of society and needs to be deconstructed through proactive political action.

Womxn and girls globally have been driving change and struggles against all forms of patriarchal power by building knowledge, coalitions, know-how and radical mobilisation tools and practices. Gender justice, moreover, is not a stand-alone topic: the fight against the patriarchy in all its forms is interconnected with the fight to more just economies, changed environmental policies, racial justice and public policies on education.

Public Policy

Public policy debates determine the priorities and funding for education at the national level. The Global Student Forums sees the need for students to develop clear, empirical and political responses to public policy issues that impact the livelihood of students and the operations of educational institutions. In addition to this, access to quality public services across all sectors shape the experiences of students in education systems.

Affordable transport, access to mental health care, youth inclusion in the labour market and modern ICT infrastructure are connected to national, regional and global students concerns. It is therefore important to develop the capacity of students to contribute to and transform public policy of governments to encourage equal participation and opportunities in societies

Racial Justice

The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 saw a critical leadership role for students in advancing the demands for racial equality and justice. In the public sphere, students mobilised with civic and political action groups to address issues of state sanctioned violence, inequalities in the justice system and economic disparities between racial groups. The movement for racial justice also critically reflected on the policies and institutional practices of education systems by creating spaces for race to be discussed in schools, transforming curricula to represent the diversity of student populations, scholarly fields and societies and creating mechanisms of accountability for educators and students who experience racial discrimination. Racial justice frameworks enhance the inclusion, diversity and intellectual development of students in spaces for education. The Global Student Forum sees racial justice as a critical component of safeguarding human rights globally.

Organisational Priorities

The Steering Committee of the Global Student Forum has identified four organisational priorities as key to advancing its objectives and achieving its mission. 

Capacity Building and Organisational Development

The creation and conservation of organisational memory and capacity building activities are crucial to the successful development of any student organisation or movement. In its unique conception as a global platform, the Global Student Forum aspires to become a transcontinental educator and space for peer to peer learning among regional, national and local student organisations and movements, seizing the diversity of the organisational backgrounds and cultures of its membership to create a global community of knowledge for successful advocacy, mobilisation and representation work.

Finances and Sustainable Funding

Students generally do not earn stable incomes and, historically, have been unable to contribute sufficient funding of their own to build infrastructures that are independent, democratic and institutionally robust. The need to secure resources to sustain independent action and student-led agendas for change reflects the material challenges independent and democratic movements inevitably face on the local, national, regional and international level.

Similarly, a dedicated and secure mechanism to ensure sustainable financing is essential for the GSF to prevail in serving independent, democratic student movements. The ambitious plan of creating such a global platform doesn’t come without challenges: it has been historically complex to sustain a global student organisation that upholds the above principles. 

Membership

The legitimacy of GSF stems from its membership and the platform as such is only as strong as the regional, national and local student organisations and movements, which shall be the beneficiaries of its work. As an initiative that aspires to strengthen student organisations and movements worldwide, the Global Student Forum needs to specifically support student self-organising structures where they are underdeveloped, contributing to the internationalisation of its regional and national members through active engagement in its structures and processes.

This follows the overarching aim to create a sense of belonging to a global community, a transnational social class of students, that is facing similar struggles in the quest to find solutions for common challenges through joint action.

Network and Outreach

In order to claim its space as a global actor and to enlarge its network of organisational and institutional partners, the Global Student Forum must focus on proactively approaching third parties with collaboration requests, project and campaign ideas as well as policy inputs. A strong network of mission aligned stakeholders and supporters is essential for the success of the organisation and its impact on the ground.