ACS International School Cobham students had an unmissable opportunity to engage in debate with Rt Hon @DominicRaab MP, Cobham's local MP and the UK's Secretary of State for Foreign Commonwealth and Development Affairs, questioning him on everything from the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit, to his personal career in politics.
The event was moderated and led by ACS Cobham's Model United Nations (MUN) team, comprising 14 High School students, headed by the MUN director Ms. Rita Ghalayini. In her opening speech, Ms. Ghalayini described MUN as an academic simulation of the United Nations, where students assume the roles of diplomats, representing their countries in conferences that aim to resolve global issues. During the interview with Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, the students used United Nations language and procedures whenever possible, but they all represented one country, “Britain”.
Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP opened the event with a talk on the government’s vision for Global Britain, the roll out of the vaccine programme to nations around the world, and the world's approach to climate change. The floor was then opened to a series of themed questions from the students. Questions of note included:
- Timothy: "Taiwan, a country in East Asia, has only suffered 10 deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the UK, it is an island, which would help to minimise the spread of the virus. In what ways was the UK's approach different to Taiwan?"
- Clara: "Why did the Government tell us not to wear masks during the first lockdown and then change their minds later, making masks compulsory? Do you think the spread of the virus could have been greatly minimised by wearing masks during the first wave?"
- Malcolm: "How does the Government plan to make trading with the EU easier for small businesses, as it is said many are paying the price for the decision to leave the EU through export costs?"
- Owen: "Considering that you almost lost your seat in the last election, what do you intend to do to be re-elected?"
The event, which was live-streamed to ACS Cobham parents and the wider school community, was hosted by Barnaby Sandow, Head of School.
Mr Sandow comments: "We are very grateful to Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP for joining us for such an interesting - and challenging - debate. The students certainly did not hold back on their questions, but each one was answered with absolute sincerity and seriousness, as they would be in a real-life debate.
“MUN gives our students an important opportunity to hone their debating skills, learn more about international politics, and develop strong communication skills as well as confidence. We look forward to offering many more events like this in the future."
Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP comments: “It was great to speak to pupils from the Model United Nations Club at ACS Cobham on Friday. I was impressed by their insightful questions, covering everything from global human rights to the economic response to Coronavirus. It’s encouraging to see young people forming an early interest in politics and the world around them.”
ACS Cobham has been offering MUN as an extra-curricular activity to its High School students since the 1990s and it currently has 41 students in the club. The team regularly takes part in MUN conferences with other schools from around the world. ACS is a regular participant in The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN), one of the largest MUN conferences in the world. This year, ACS MUN students attended THIMUN online and held an online conference with Prepa Tec school on the issue of refugees.