The Student’s Government: How Effective is it?


Juan Felipe Gaviria, Discoverer Staff Writer

One day you enter your sociales class. Your teacher asks that you take out your computer and enter schoology. After going through the process you are presented with a couple pictures and a few names. You’ve listened to all of them, you know what they want to do. Now you are presented with a decision, who of those faces will truly fight for your best interests? You’ve just experienced something that is relatively new in history, democracy.

Every private school in Colombia is required to possess a student government; understanding how it works and how The Columbus School implements it isn’t apparent to the every day student, but, the intricate system that law requirements is much more than meets the eye.

What is student government?

“Ley 0115 de 1994” exposes the requirements for all educational institutions to form a student government through holding student elections where democracy will be used to determine those who form the representative class, as cited clearly here: “Las instituciones educativas privadas establecerán en su reglamento, un gobierno escolar para la participación de la comunidad educativa.” Also, this law pertains to the Colombia’s constitution on article 68 which states:  “Los particulares podrán fundar establecimientos educativos. La ley establecerá las condiciones para su creación y gestión.”

Sometimes, what is not commonly known is that the reglamentation for private educational institutions and public is completely different regarding student government. So you might compare TCS student government system with a school such as Montessori but you can’t with an public institution such as INEM. The government has imposed this system as they have no control as to what happens inside each academic institution so it has found a way to secure that students are represented when they can’t represent them.

Student Government at TCS

At The Columbus School the Sociales Coordinator is the assigned faculty member to supervise the election process and help the student representatives in case they need it. The job has been filled by many people and it has had a deep impact on the effectivity of the program. “It (the student government) is highly reliant on the Sociales Coordinator, for example when Vicky Jaramillo filled the position it was highly effective,” Sociales Coordinator, Felipe Naranjo, said.

Students also don’t realize how much time it consumes to be a student representative like for example holding the position of personera. “I have to dispose of my entire day to be attentive to student’s needs, concerns, requests, suggestions, etc. I am available all the time for what a student may need and I also attend things like the ‘comité de convivencia’,” 2018-2019 Personera, Paulina Bernal, said.

The main tasks of the student representatives have to do more with putting in a student voice into ongoing projects in the school than to present new projects as that is much more difficult.

Troubles for the Stuco Program

Still, the program needs work and dissatisfaction with student voice became apparent to the school directives after the “Advanced Ed” survey taken by students at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. “We have to include more student voice into what is happening in the school, if I were to reflect what has happened in the last few years is that we have worked a lot with parents and the community but not enough with students,” TCS Superintendent, Ruth Allen, said.

Now, after revising the objectives in the school, the school is looking into ways into making the school’s student government more effective but one of the main problems is the size of the school. “The student council is the same size of a small school, but on our campus each STUCO represents 130 people, not 20 or 25, so maybe that is why it isn’t really effective,” Allen, said. Many possible solutions into making the student voice more powerful and the school more transparent are being considered at the moment but an optimistic tone goes around this year’s representatives.

“We must leave clear to people how important their vote is for them to understand how important it is to choose the correct person to represent them as a grade level and as a school, that is how STUCO will grow,” Bernal, said.