TGS at International Conference at UN Headquarters in Geneva.

Twelve sixth form students from Tonbridge Grammar School (TGS) travelled to Geneva to participate in a Model United Nations General Assembly (MUNGA). They were participating in an international debate on “ICT as the way forward in development, peace and prosperity”.

This is the only bilingual MUNGA worldwide with 320 students taking part. The Tonbridge Grammar School contingent was warmly welcomed, together with students from their German exchange school near Cologne and bilingual youngsters from Paris. This is the first time that partner international students have worked collaboratively to replicate the challenges of la diplomacie multilaterale in an authentic setting. 

The students enjoyed a guided tour of the UN headquarters in Geneva, as well as learning something of its history. The opening ceremony contained speeches and video presentations on the rapid growth of the Internet and mobile technologies which have resulted in inequalities between developed and developing countries within the last 5 years.

TGS students were involved in debates ranging from combatting cyber-terrorism, regulating electronic information including social media, and world food security.  Other topics have included a discussion on developing online education systems to increase worldwide literacy levels and gaining greater gender equality through the use of ICT.

The conference was hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is the UN agency for Information Technology. Its undertaking is to protect and support everyone’s right to communicate throughout the world. A number of eminent dignitaries has also been present, including the Director General of the UN in Geneva, the Director General of the ITU, and three UN ambassadors representing France, Costa Rica and Switzerland.

Mrs Pauline Bullen, Deputy Head at Tonbridge Grammar School, said:

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us here at the heart of the UN headquarters in Geneva. Formal UN protocols are de rigueur, so from a linguistic point of view this demands a whole new register of language and expression from the students. Simultaneous translation is ongoing and undertaken by those with sufficient confidence!  Positioning our girls and boys in this richly diverse setting will convince them that they have a valuable contribution to make to the UN community of the future.”