MUNGA on Aid: Good or Bad


On Tuesday 20th June a Model United Nations General Assembly was held at the School of Education, Kingston University.  The delegates of this MUNGA were not eminent people, but primary school pupils (Year 6 – aged 10 and 11) from schools in Kingston and wider area.  Thirteen schools took part and there were ten pupils in each delegation.  In advance each school had been allocated a country to research and represent. These included U.S.A., Sierra Leone, Ireland, Russia, Kenya and Rwanda.  Children had used the World Wide Web, textbooks, brochures and embassies to gather information about and understand their country and its perspective on the issue of aid.  Was their country a receiver or giver?  Were there negative effects of aid? What form should aid take? Should any strings be attached to donations?


The day began with a welcome from the organiser Urszula Basini, a senior lecturer in Geography at the university; an introduction to the day by chairman Mary Holmes, a member of the World Development Movement and Kingston Peace Council; and a lively talk by Rachel Stevens of Christian Aid, who emphasised that aid must be what the receiver needs.  This was followed by a group activity where the children represented different people in a cocoa trading chain.  They were aghast to learn at the end that in reality, farmers received just 8% of what we spend on a bar of chocolate while the supermarket received 28%.  One child commented, “But they only have to take the bars out of the boxes and put them on the shelves!”


After a break the primary delegates chosen as spokesmen, addressed the lecture theatre on their country’s views and position on aid.  These were very impressive speeches and revealed how much research had been done.  After lunch discussions were held in groups and, when back in country groups, each delegation was asked to form a resolution.  These were voted on after being presented to the general assembly.  The proposal put by the Irish delegation won.  It was in two parts: a) all debt to be cancelled with no strings attached and b) each rich country should be paired with a poor country to provide aid needed e.g. U.S.A. and Sierra Leone with 1% of every rich country’s wealth being put into a fund to finance relief in major disasters.


It was a privilege to help at this event.  These children were a credit to their schools and it gave all adults present hope that yes, we are developing global citizens who care.

Maggie Rees