Johannesburg Model UN Gets Teens Talking about Global Understanding and Skills

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Global Classrooms®: Johannesburg is the only Model UN Conference of its Kind for South African youth Grades 8-12

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Today’s youth generation is the largest and most globally connected in human history. Through programs like Global Classrooms, UNA-USA is developing the global thinkers and leaders who take on tomorrow’s toughest challenges.

Tomorrow more than 600 participants will attend the United Nations Association of the USA’s Global Classrooms®: Johannesburg Model UN Conference at the University of the Witwatersrand. Hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the conference offers the only Model UN experience of its kind in South Africa designed specifically to engage students in grades 8-12. Students from more than 75 classrooms across the Gauteng province of South Africa will participate.

Helene Hoedl, Deputy Director for the UN Information Centre in South Africa and André Viviers, Senior Social Policy Specialist at UNICEF will help open the conference and also serve as committee policy advisors. Topics being addressed by students this year include the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, the Nile Water situation, Child Marriage, and UN Security Council Reform.

Patrick Madden, Executive Director of UNA-USA, the leading membership organization of supporters of the United Nations, and a program of the United Nations Foundation, said, “Today’s youth generation is the largest and most globally connected in human history. Through programs like Global Classrooms, UNA-USA is developing the global thinkers and leaders who take on tomorrow’s toughest challenges.”

Since 2001, SAIIA has partnered with Global Classrooms to bring the Model UN experience to thousands of South African youth. Over the course of the school year, Global Classrooms provides outreach and in-class resources to over 3,000 teachers and students in more than 200 classrooms. In order to meet growing demand for Global Classrooms, Youth @ SAIIA is increasing the number of volunteer tutors who are students from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, and the University of South Africa. In addition to building outreach and tutoring in the classroom, SAIIA is also providing free student sessions at their library.

“Global Classrooms is an especially important program in South Africa, as it reaches a wide range of schools, providing a unique forum where young people and educators from various cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds come together to not just identify issues, but to also start creating solutions,” said Desirée Kosciulek

Youth Development Officer, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). “Participants in this weekend’s conference will leave with a new perspective, empowered to take an active role in shaping their own futures and building a better world for all of us.”

UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms®
At the core of Global Classrooms is Model United Nations. Model UN has been the premier vehicle for building young people’s leadership skills and understanding of international affairs, world cultures, and the workings of the United Nations for over 60 years. Model UN requires participants to master the art of consensus building while drafting resolutions to solve some of today’s most complex global issues. By stepping into the shoes of UN ambassadors and representing viewpoints of 192 UN member states, young people gain awareness of ideas and trends that most deeply affect their generation. In 1999, UNA-USA created Global Classrooms to bridge the gap in the Model UN community between experienced programs and traditionally underserved public schools worldwide. The program is distinguished by robust curriculum and classroom resources that utilize the Model UN activity. Students develop key literacy skills such as research, writing, critical thinking, conflict resolution, verbal communication, and not least of all – an appreciation for diverse perspectives. Global Classrooms is the only comprehensive program of study and instruction based on Model UN.

Youth @ SAIIA
Youth @ SAIIA refers to all youth development and programming at the South African Institute of International Affairs. SAIIA's youth initiatives align with our mission, emphasizing a broader goal of fostering awareness on international affairs, programmes that stimulate public debate amongst young people, as well as providing skills development that cultivates future leaders and researchers. Many South African schools face enormous challenges, and SAIIA's schools programmes seek to go beyond single day events. By providing resources and tutoring, learners walk away with relevant skills that ultimately leave them with a deeper ability to engage with and understand issues affecting South Africa, the African continent, and the world as a whole. Topics cut across subject disciplines, often directly linking to subject Learning Outcomes and Assessment Standards found in the National Curriculum Statement for South African schools.

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Caleb Tiller


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