International Students’ Day is annually observed across the globe on November 17 to ensure that every student across the globe has access to education. The day celebrates multiculturalism, diversity, and teamwork among students.
- Originally, the day was established to remember the students who died in World War II and to remember the events that took place in Prague during World War II in 1939.
i. In 1939, the Nazi occupants in Czechoslovakia suppressed the demonstrations held by the students of the Medical Faculty of Charles University to commemorate the creation of an independent Czechoslovak Republic. This resulted in the death of a medical student Jan Opletal.
ii. Thousands of students turned the funeral of Jan Opletal into an anti-Nazi demonstration which resulted in drastic Nazi measures like the closing of all Czech universities and colleges and sending more than 1200 students to the concentration camps.
iii. On 17th November 1939, 9 students and professors were executed without trial. Due to this event, the date was chosen to be International Students’ Day.
iv. The first-ever International Students’ Day was observed in London, The United Kingdom(UK) by the International Students’ Council in 1941.
Significance of International Students’ Day:
i. Many Universities around the globe hold special events on November 17 to prove their support for multiculturalism and diversity.
ii. The day is an opportunity for all students to raise their voices with regard to equal access to education.
Note: The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) annually raises awareness for students’ rights.
Velvet Revolution & Freedom and Democracy Day:
i. On 17th November 1989, Prague demonstrations for the 50th anniversary of International Students Day, sparked the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.
ii. The velvet revolution ended more than 40 years of communist rule in Czechoslovakia and catalysed the process of democratization in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
iii. The 17th of November is also marked as Freedom and Democracy Day in both Czech Republic and Slovakia.
iv. The holiday is more significant in the Czech Republic because it also marks the end of communism in Czechoslovakia.