Johannesburg, South Africa Students' and Children's Councils

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Johannesburg, South Africa

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

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IT'S 2008 – a new year and a new student council. A new executive has been elected, with new projects identified and a new energy. It’s democracy in action, alive and well and in the hands of the youth.

The Johannesburg Student Council is made up of more than 100 energetic teenagers from 60 schools around the city. These are Johannesburg’s future movers and shakers.

And these teenagers have a mission: to give a voice to the youth of the city; to raise issues and possible solutions specific to high-school learners. At the same time they are learning everything there is to know about local government, from how political decisions take effect to the duties and responsibilities of everyone involved.

Every year the participating schools each select two Grade 11 learners as representatives. An executive is elected from this group, each with specific portfolios, duties and tasks. This election is run exactly like any other election, with participants campaigning for support, and then casting a secret ballot. And, as with all elections in this country, they are closely monitored by the Independent Electoral Commission.

In fact, the Student Council mirrors very closely the actual City of Johannesburg council.

The learners get together on a monthly basis, working on various educational or social upliftment projects, learning numerous skills, helping city communities – and having loads of fun at the same time.

At the end of the year-long experience the group leave a little older and much wiser, and it’s then time to choose another Student Council.

In essence, the Student Council aims to encourage the young citizens of Joburg to take an interest in local government, have a sense of civic awareness and pride, and contribute to developing City policies that directly affect them.

Perhaps the best way to find out what it’s all about is to hear from those taking part.