Student and youth councils are a channel for dialogue and cooperation between teachers and students and between schools and the community. The councils operate on four levels: school, local, regional and national. At each level, the council members are elected by their peers. This evaluation study examined the training activities held during the year for local student and youth council members and the in-service training and professional support given to the councils’ advisors. In addition, information was gathered on the personal profile of the local council members and these councils’ advisors.
This study is part of a series of studies that examined three programs operated by the Youth and Society Administration in the Ministry of Education to promote young leadership: young Shelach leadership, youth leadership, and student and youth councils. Following a 1998 study on the activities and contributions of these programs (Kahan-Strawczynski; Baumgold and Dolev, 2000), it was decided to examine these programs’ training programs in depth. The studies on the training programs for participants of the other two programs – young Shelach leadership and youth leadership – will each be published separately.
The findings of the study on the local student and youth councils show that most of the advisors conduct a structured training program for council members and that there is a high rate of participation among the members. At the same time, there is a gap between the actual training program’s format, contents, and scope and the members’ preferences. For example, the members preferred that their training take place on the same day throughout the year, but this is not currently the case. Regarding general contributions, the members reported that the training helped them to understand their role and the role of the councils. However, members reported less satisfaction from the training in more practical aspects, such us providing relevant tools to perform their role or identify the needs of youth.
Almost all of the advisors said that they had someone to turn to when they ran into a problem. However, only one of every two council advisors participated in a training course prior to assuming his role. This raises the question of how qualified the advisors are to perform their job. Moreover, only half of the advisors used the written material they received from the Youth and Society Administration and less than half thought that it provided sufficient information. The findings indicate that both council members and advisors have common perceptions concerning some major problems of the program. Both groups cited insufficient training and difficulties related to internal interpersonal conflicts.
The findings of this study have been disseminated among a wide circle of professionals and policymakers in the Youth and Society Administration, and are serving as a basis for improving the training given to members and the support provided to the councils’ advisors.