South African High School Debaters Heading for Model United Nations Conference in Washington, D.C.

12 March 2015 | News and Media

Johannesburg, 11 March 2015 — A select team of 11 high school students from resourced and under-resourced schools from around South Africa are leaving this Sunday, 15 March for the United States to compete in an international Model United Nations debating conference. The students and organizers are available for interviews in Johannesburg on Saturday and Sunday.

The winning team of students with Deputy Minister of Education, Enver Surty, shortly after the results of the 2014 SAMUN was announced on Robben Island, 20 October 2014 (Photo: Lesley Ives)

The winning team of students with Deputy Minister of Education, Enver Surty, shortly after the results of the 2014 SAMUN was announced on Robben Island, 20 October 2014 (Photo: Lesley Ives)

The team heading for the Washington Model United Nations Conference was selected by panels of judges comprised of representatives from the United Nations, academia and civil society from among over 500 high school learners in all nine provinces over the past year. The winners were announced by Deputy Minister of Education Enver Surty at a ceremony on Robben Island on 20 October 2014, where student finalists had the unique opportunity to spend a night.

Model United Nations debating involves students simulating negotiations on topical global issues that take place in the forums of the UN. Each student is tasked with representing a specific country and its interests. The students were selected as part of the Education Africa South African Model United Nations programme (SAMUN). SAMUN was established 20 years ago, at the dawn of South Africa’s democracy and the country’s re-engagement with the international community.

Sponsored by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Pretoria and organized by Education Africa, a Johannesburg-based non-governmental organization, SAMUN alumni now include many young leaders who continue to make a difference in their communities and pursue related careers.

“The South African programme is unique in that it twins resourced schools, learners and educators with their lesser-resourced counterparts” according to Helene Hoedl, Director of UNIC Pretoria. “Enabling these “born frees” to participate in such debates is a tangible example of bridge-building, tolerance and empathy – values that are central to the UN’s founding principles. It also inspires students to become global citizens.”

The Department of Basic Education and UNIC Pretoria, along with several other UN agencies in South Africa, actively participate in the SAMUN from provincial to national and the international level.

For more information and to arrange interviews with SAMUN participants, contact:
Education Africa: Linda Gould, T: 083-708 3591 / 011-685 7300;
E: linda@educationafrica.org
UNIC Pretoria: Helene Hoedl, T: 082-313 0051/012-354 8504; E: helene.hoedl@unic.org