Representations   Sweden


Sveriges Elevråds Centralorganisation - SECO
Swedish Student Associations Central Organisation

Type of Members

Student councils.
But individual students can sign up as supportive members (this is mainly due to make organisation fit better with the government system for grants to NGOs)

Amount of members

300 student councils and 42 000 individual students that have signed up as supportive members.

General Assembly

Around 300
Approximately 150 student councils.


€ 1,2 mil, by 40% national systematic governmental contribution, 30% regional and local government contribution and 20% national agency of education for development of schools.

Organisation's Staff

25 full-time (approximately)

Year of Foundation


The first student council was fomerd 1852 at Sven Erikssons gymnasium in Borås. The first national union was formed in 1938 (STSE - Sveriges Tekniska Skolors Elevförbund) which merged 1982 with SECO (fomred 1952) to Elevorganisationen I Sverige which 2006 changed its name back to SECO.

Basic Structure

Basic structure

A national board of 9 people is elected on the General Assembly. 3 members of the board, the Secretary General, national coordinator (responsible for the employees in the regions) and the development coordinator make up the steering group that executes the boards decisions and coordinates the day to day work.

Other Student Unions

In Sweden there are two organisations SECO and SVEA for school student councils.
Svea – Is also a union for student councils, which works first and foremost with representative student bodies focusing on school democracy.

(SECO coordinates and supports all forms of student organised activity, whether its groups organising cultural events, anti racism campaigns, local school newspapers, sports clubs, anti-poverty action groups, gender equality groups, anti grades campaigns etc.)

SVEA was formed 1994 as a more moderate counterpart to SECO which was far more radical at the time and only organised individual students. 2007 Svea had 4 full time employees.

Student Representations

The only legislation concerning student representation is one paragraph stating that the class should have a meeting together with their mentor once every month and the legislation concerning student safety officers (regulated in the working environment law).

Students at School Level

Students in Municipal or Governmental Bodies

40 secondary schools in Sweden have local boards made up by a majority of students. But apart from that there’s no student representation in the official municipal bodies.
The lack of official representation is not something that is necessary bad. In the schools with students in the board the development have often been quite negative. The board is partially responsible for everything that is not to the satisfaction in the school, and this results in the students in board being blamed for the situation in the school by other students. The unity among the students is damaged and the students lose their legitimacy as a part in the institution. Sometimes it’s better to act as a movement outside the official representation and try to put pressure on the decision makers in the issues that concerns the students. (in the same way as Amnesty or Green Peace).
On national level we are often asked to participate in the committees that investigate different issues. All governmental proposals concerning secondary school are always remitted to SECO for consideration.


Our focus is largely on local level.
There are hundreds of positive examples in local issues where the councils have been improving the situation for the students. Schools where the lunch fees have been removed, access to the school on weekends and evenings increased, new programs and courses introduced etc. etc. Not always are the results reached by communicating the student interests to the decision makers but more often are the results reached by the students themselves solving the problems. For example all social and cultural events that are organised by local student groups. Or Operation Dayswork where students work to collect money to build schools in developing countries.
On national level regular meetings with the agency of education, the political parties and the government are held. In some cases SECO has written motions that are presented in the parliament by parliamentarians from various parties. But most of the work is of informal character and on this level it’s hard to say how much of the results that are reached is due to the work of SECO or whether it’s because of a general development in Sweden.

Historically SECO was largely responsible for the removal of the Christianity subject in the seventies, the introduction of sex education in the sixties and the inclusion of students in the working environmental laws in the eighties.


The biggest problem is the de-coupling between what decision makers say and what they actually do. Politicians speak about how they want to give the youth more influence over the issues. In Sweden there’s a tendency to develop separate structures for youth representation and apply one standard for young people and another for adults. But if one really wanted to give more influence to the youth it’s pretty easy, just lower the voting age.
But the youth is not to be given influence because of a general will to increase the power of the youth but because of a will to train the youth in participation. There’s a fear of letting the youth influence the real issues before they are trained properly.
This leads to a situation where youth structures are built up around issues that are of no concern in the adult world, and also of no concern for most young people, resulting in a lack of trust for democracy and participation among young people. They tend to forget that in the same way a positive experience of democracy and participation results in an increasing interest for society and the collective issues, negative experience results in decreasing trust and interest for democracy and participation.
A cynical point is: If the decision makers don’t do it right it might be better to not bother at all cause they might screw up more then they improve.


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School Systems