ACCRA, Ghana – An international gathering of student organizations ended its second World Student Congress last week with a strong commitment to mobilizing students around the world in defense of access to public education.

Participants in the event include representatives from the All Africa Students Union (AASU), the International Union of Students (IUS), the United States Student Association (USSA), the International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN), the Asian Students’ Association (ASA), the Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students (OCLAE) and the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB). Participation was facilitated through both in-person meetings and use of information technology to include input from all regions.

The event, called by the IUS and hosted by the AASU, was a meeting of the regional students’ organizations from around the world, and the IUS.

“AASU is pleased to have hosted this important world event,” stated Ogunlana Oludare, secretary general of the All Africa Students Union. “The global, mass-based student movement has always played a unique role in holding our governments accountable and contributing to United Nations processes.

“Now we are ready to consolidate our efforts to hold undemocratic global decision-making forums, such as the World Trade Organization, accountable.”

The first World Student Congress was held in October 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland. At that event, student leaders focused on follow-up from the 1998 World Conference on Higher Education of the United Nations’ Educational, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Last week, the organizations met once again to share information, strategize, identify shared concerns and develop common programs, on issues ranging from the latest United Nations events and campaigns, to HIV/AIDS awareness among students and the impact of trade liberalization on access to higher education.

Added Elizabeth Carlyle, spokesperson for the International Union of Students: “Transnational corporate rule poses a serious threat to democracy and development, and more and more students’ unions are organizing to confront this issue.

“The trend in higher education worldwide has been to privatize many aspects of higher education and to abandon the goal of universal access to university and college. The World Student Congress is a valuable contribution to reversing that trend and to preserving and promoting a global commons in which human rights are not sacrificed in the name of corporate profit.”

During the event, students met with a representative of UNESCO to discuss their concerns about privatization and commodification of higher education, and to call for greater cooperation between the student groups and the United Nations system. Delegates also discussed many upcoming student events, including the Oct. 31, 2002, Hemispheric Day of Action Against the Free Trade Area of the Americas and other events to mark Nov. 17, International Students’ Day.

Results of the Second World Student Congress include a final declaration, plan of action, and agreements for future activities. Those wishing to receive a copy of these documents may contact Ogunlana Oludare, secretary general of AASU, at 024-233-092 or or e-mail the International Union of Students at