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Friday, February 23, 2024

UN press conferences organized for schoolchildren

At the entrance to the UN, a group of young people are about to enter. They've all come to attend the Young Reporters conference at the UN, whose theme this time is Humanitarian Aid.

As they pass through security, they take photos with the name badges they have received. For many of them, it's the first time they've been inside the Palais. The building is impressive. A few peacocks, animal relics from Gustave Revilliod's era, greet them with a rainbow wheel.

In the room prepared for the occasion, the mediator and the two speakers await them. The mediator, a UN communications officer and former journalist, warms up the room: "Which of you comes straight from Collège André-Chavannes? 10 students? Welcome! What about Collège Calvin? Ah, one person, brave! We'd like to remind you of the exercise: a brief presentation of current events by the speakers, and then we're counting on you to ask pertinent, disturbing, thoughtful questions, like real journalists". And the questions from the 15-year-olds come thick and fast. It has to be said that the presentations are top-notch: the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) sets the scene, while the NGO APOPO presents a concrete example of mine clearance using rats. Questions focus mainly on the theme of the day: humanitarian aid. The effectiveness of the aid provided by Western countries is questioned by the youngsters. More personal questions are also asked by some students interested in the profession.

But the exercise doesn't stop there. The young people, each from a dozen different schools, then write press articles, the best of which will be published in the UN's in-house magazine, UN special, produce broadcasts for Fréquence Banane, the university radio station partnering the activity, or, more simply, prepare oral presentations for the rest of their class.

The Eduki Foundation, the UN's Perception Change Project and the UN Information Service are behind this new activity, created in 2016 and aimed at raising young people's awareness of the work of international organizations. It's a different way of approaching cooperation, through real-life situations. For the new school year, a variety of themes await the young reporters. Human trafficking, the Paris Agreement, clean energy, refugee camps: all subjects directly linked to current events and sure to fascinate budding young journalists.

For more information: www.eduki.ch/fr/la-cooperation-internationale-pour-les-jeunes/528