The 17th BERMUN2 conference was held at the John F. Kennedy School due to Covid-19. With the most total number of BERMUN2 participants ever (253!), JFKS were able to meet on campus, however, students from the other 18 different schools participated virtually using the MUN Platform.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims education to be an undeniable right. In this age of technological and social innovation, we must simultaneously aim for educational excellence and equity. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
A defining aspect of equity lies in the fairness of opportunity. In education, this means that all students have the same possibilities regardless of socioeconomic conditions or genetic predispositions. Meanwhile, achievement gaps between countries, demonstrated by the PISA tests, indicate that some state education systems are more successful than others. Moreover, discrepancies even within high-performing countries can be detrimental in the pursuit of equity.
Does that mean we should prioritize the less successful and/or gifted? To what extent should such students receive more support in their studies? Additionally, excessive pressure for excellence can be harmful to mental health. Countries like Japan consistently score higher than most other developed countries on the PISA tests, but Japanese students are under stress, which is tragically reflected in their suicide rate.
Education aims to lay the foundation for students’ professional future. Should students memorize mathematical formulas and historical dates that are accessible on any digital device? New technology is not only capable of storing and applying information but is able to understand and even mimic human behavior. How can education prepare students for employment when automated technology is being developed to replace them?
Education also serves purposes beyond economic interests. Some curricula pursue political goals: to create a national identity, cultivate local, national or global citizenship, and/or activate social justice. Many argue that schools should also develop students’ social and emotional skills and awareness. Humanists believe we should learn for its own sake and examine what it means to be human. Considering the many objectives of education, should one or a few aims be prioritized, and if so, to what degree?
Our world’s limited resources force us to make such a decision and trade off the benefits of pursuing certain goals. At BERMUN2, we will convene to discuss what we want for our future, and how we can utilize education to shape it.
Nico Hammer, Secretary-General
Noah Delfs, President of the General Assembly
Nicolas Heidbrink, Deputy Secretary-General
Carlotta Senftleben, Deputy Secretary-General