SEK Education Group held the inauguration of its 13th SEKMUN Meeting, its United Nations Model applied to education, in the Spanish Senate. Nieves Segovia, President of IESEK and Samuel Martín-Barbero, Rector of UCJC, encouraged the young people present to be brave and courageous in fighting for truth in the face of misinformation and fake news that are on the increase in our society and erode coexistence and democratic values. They have made this call for freedom and critical thinking in the presence of the President of the Senate, Pío García-Escudero, who congratulated SEK Education Group for this initiative.
In his welcome address, García-Escudero encouraged the young “not to be passive, to get involved, to be informed and to think critically, to train as committed, responsible and tolerant citizens”. He assured the students gathered in the Senate “this experience will enrich you as people”.
In her speech, the President of SEK Education Group, Nieves Segovia, highlighted the spirit of SEKMUN: “To educate in defence of freedom, with citizens committed to social justice, able to discern and reason. From its founding this has been the purpose SEK Group and University Camilo José Cela, to educate for and in freedom. That is why a renewed call to action is necessary, redoubling of our critical thinking that leads us to challenge our truth against that of others”.
The President of SEK Education Group quoted Martin Luther King to remind SEKMUN delegates, and young people in general, “the fierce urgency of now” and has encouraged them to be brave and to participate in their own future, since, as Dr King said, “this is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action”.
In his speech, the Rector of University Camilo Jose Cela, Samuel Martin-Barber, spoke of the importance of choosing reliable sources of information and go “to those institutions that have been searching for the truth for centuries, such as universities. UCJC extends its hand to the reconquest of freedom to exercise an independent opinion as a compass for life, and not fall into the temptation of exciting stories or the multiplicity of images and channels that leave us little time for reflection. Tried and tested facts and well-founded opinions must be the essentials mechanisms in the search of the truth”.
SEKMUN is a space for reflection and debate, where around 500 young students from Secondary school and Baccalaureate put forward solutions for conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiation, in addition to learning about international geopolitical issues.
This educational and cultural project is sponsored by Banco Santander through Santander Universities. This initiative is a great opportunity to tackle, through the eyes of the young and from a fresh perspective, the most pressing issues on the international agenda, something essential for building the world that our young people will inherit. The model is a positive reinforcement in the values of respect, dignity, freedom and solidarity. In addition, it fosters the acquisition of essential skills and techniques for students’ future, such as public speaking, critical reflection, debate, research and writing. SEKMUN conforms to the guidelines set by the United Nations and has the United Nations certificate, the first model in Spain applied to education, since 2007.
The opening session took place this morning in the Spanish Senate. The event was attended by Pío García-Escudero, president of the Senate; Nieves Segovia Bonet, President of SEK Education Group; Samuel Martín-Barbero, Rector of University Camilo José Cela; Chris Charleson, Director of SEK International Schools; Antonio Fabregat, winner of World’s Best Speaker in English as a Foreign Language, SEK alumnus and teacher at UCJC; Gustavo Suárez Pertierra, President of Unicef Spain; and Emilia Parejo, Commercial Director and Director of Institutional Relations of Santander Universities and Universia Spain. The ceremony was also chaired by the General Secretary of this edition, Marina Flores del Prado, a student at SEK International School Ciudalcampo.
“This experience will enrich you as people”
Secretary General of SEKMUN, Marina Flores del Prado also intervened with an emotional speech on the role of youth and the importance of making themselves heard, who also chaired the event. “By chasing our dreams, we reach society. SEKMUN is a unique school”, he said. “We are not the voice of the future. We are the present. ”
Next, Antonio Fabregat recalled his experience at SEKMUN in which he participated during his time as a student at SEK-Ciudalcampo. “Try to take away two things from SEKMUN: the courage required to be here and the experiences that you are going to gain after participating in model United Nations,” he advised this year’s participants.
Emilia Parejo, Commercial and Institutional Relations Director of Santander Universities, said during her speech that “your knowledge and attitude are the best greatest assets to tackle any project.”
Gustavo Suárez encouraged emulating “evocative spaces like SEKMUN”. “You are going to replicate a United Nations Model that is focused on building a better world,” said the President of Unicef Spain.
“This is no time for apathy or complacency, this is a time for vigorous and positive action”
Chris Charleson, after reproducing fragments of speeches of personalities like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and even Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler, recalled that “the word can be a call to arms or a call to peace. Respect and tolerance can make a better world. ”
Over these three days, Secondary School and Baccalaureate students from SEK International Schools and other schools from around Spain and the world played the role of diplomats from different countries to tackle conflicts affecting humanity. The assemblies and councils will discuss and tackle topics in Spanish and English concerning the rights of children; the relationship between disarmament and development; the sustainability of foreign debt; improvement of road safety in the world; assistance for unaccompanied refugee minors and the effects of atomic radiation, among others.
This SEK Education Group initiative is sponsored by Banco Santander. Banco Santander holds a firm commitment to higher education through Santander Universities, a unique international initiative that distinguishes it from other financial institutions. Santander is the private company with the greatest investment to support education in the world (Varkey Report / UNESCO-Fortune 500) with over 1,200 collaboration agreements with universities and institutions in 21 countries and over 73,000 scholarships and grants awarded just in 2018.