Wynberg Girls' High School was invited to participate in The South African Model UN (SAMUN) 2014 Provincial Workshops and Conferences.
The South African Model United Nations (SAMUN) is a dynamic Education Africa project based on the principles and format of a UN General Assembly debate, with a focus on the United Nations, global issues, international relations and human rights issues. Teams from participating schools are engaged in General Assembly-style debates, representing the viewpoints of their allocated country.
The SAMUN offers enormous benefits and life skills to participating students. They learn about tolerance, dialogue and empathy while acquiring some essential practical skills such as the written preparation of arguments and the oral presentation of such arguments; negotiation skills and diplomacy, among others. Over the 14 years that Education Africa has been running this project, we have witnessed students who have, as a result of this event, developed an awareness of the importance of international relations and human rights. Students develop the ability to research, negotiate and find practical solutions to issues on the global agenda, thus becoming informed global citizens who are aware of the issues facing our world. All this while developing public speaking and debating skills which are essential in the workplace.
WGHS was one of 20 schools taking part. Each team consisted of 4 members, representing one of the UN member-states. Our girls (Hayley Knol, Rebekah Nathan, Tayla Pinto, and Annika Wium) represented the delegation from Brazil. The debate concerned the key question: The modern woman: does gender equality conflict with traditional beliefs?
After each team had made an opening statement, discussion ensued on a number of prepared resolutions. In unmoderated (informal) caucusing among members of the different delegations, changes were made to draft resolutions. After further caucusing – moderated (formal) and unmoderated – there was a break for lunch. After lunch, voting took place on amendments to resolutions, closing speeches were made by each delegation, and voting took place on final resolutions. Two resolutions were finally adopted by the General Assembly.
After a break where delegates mingled, the following awards were announced:
• Best female speaker: Lusibalwethu Sesanti (Rhenish Girls High – Russia)
• Best male speaker: Aedan Dilley (International School of Hout Bay – Saudi Arabia)
• Best delegation: Springfield Convent High School – Cuba
• Best team spirit: Hottentots-Holland High School – India
Although we were not among the prize-winners on our first attempt at the UNASA Model UN Competition, our representatives performed very well and found the event a first-class learning experience, and are very keen to spread the word and, if possible, compete again.
The topic for next year was announced as Peace and Security and the Post-2015 Agenda, and we will represent Indonesia.
We are quite sure that we will do even better next time round!