University of Pittsburgh
March 7, 2016

High School Students Tackle the Problems of African Countries


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—More than 165 high school students from throughout the region will convene at the University of Pittsburgh March 15 for the Fifth Annual Model African Union conference—a day of debating contemporary topics important to various African countries and then deliberating on resolutions.

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the O’Hara Student Center, 4024 O’Hara St., Oakland. Media coverage is welcome.

Sponsored by Pitt’s African Studies Program, part of the University Center for International Studies, the conference allows students to learn the entire process first-hand. They research and explore the issues assigned to them beforehand, assisted by their high school teachers and a resource website created by the African Studies Program. On the day of the conference, the teenagers play the roles of ambassadors responsible for resolving those issues. They deliver speeches, negotiate, propose resolutions and amendments, and vote, in the same manner used by members of African Union committees. They not only learn more about Africa and problem solving but also hone their skills in researching, writing, and public speaking.

“Our participants debate important topics in the interest of resolving problems that affect our world, such as human security issues,” said Macrina C. Lelei, African Studies Program interim director. “The skills they develop—conflict resolution, compromise, and cooperation—will be useful throughout their lives.” 

This year’s conference keynote speaker, who will make his remarks at 8:30 a.m., is Raymond Atuguba, former executive secretary to the president of the Republic of Ghana. During a lunch of African cuisine, students will enjoy entertainment by Camara Drum and Dance and then will receive a short lesson in traditional dance.

Students from 14 area high schools will participate this year, including two Pittsburgh Public Schools and several from surrounding districts.