Vienna, 20 October 2009 Press release

Schmied/Spindelegger/Nasser: “Inspiring school pupils’ enthusiasm

Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Education and UN Information Service present new materials on the United Nations for use in schools

Schmied/Spindelegger/Nasser: “Inspiring school pupils’ enthusiasm for the UN”

Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Education and UN Information Service present new materials on the United Nations for use in schools

Vienna, 20 October 2009 – “After its EU Presidency in 2006, Austria, with its membership of the UN Security Council, has assumed its second most important international responsibility. We want to seize this opportunity and make our school pupils and students more familiar with the United Nations, its tasks and functions. Particularly in a small country like ours, the knowledge of foreign languages and understanding of international networks are essential tools for the future,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger during a presentation of the new book “Together Strong – The United Nations” to students at Rahlgasse Grammar School, together with Minister of Education Claudia Schmied and Maher Nasser, Director of the UN Information Service in Vienna.

“When teaching school pupils today, we are also shaping the world of tomorrow. It is our school pupils and students who will determine which way our world is going to develop. It is therefore important that we awaken their interest in global issues as early as possible and make time and room for sustainable development. This will only be possible if children and young people learn not only facts but also the basics of democratic behaviour and how to live peacefully together both in the classroom and in the real world beyond. These teaching materials constitute an important contribution to the political education of our children,” emphasised Minister of Education Claudia Schmied.

The teaching materials have been developed by the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Education and the UN Information Service to mark Austria’s membership of the UN Security Council and the 30th anniversary of Vienna’s International Centre. Various teaching units that relate to Austrian curricula may be integrated in class work, providing the pupils with an overview of the history, structure and main tasks of the United Nations as well as Austria’s role within the UN. The materials are adjusted to the pupils’ age, and special importance has been attached to an interactive approach to the subject. They also contain a quiz, for instance, and the possibility to simulate the Security Council’s work, which enables the pupils to better understand the decision-making processes within the UN’s highest body. The material was developed for pupils from the age of thirteen onwards, but can also be used outside school.

“Through this material Austrian school pupils can take a first step towards the world of the United Nations and get to know the organization’s structure, history and development. They will also find signposts telling them where to look for further information. We hope that this will help them to understand the UN better and establish their own relationship with the organization, and that they will learn how the United Nations copes with the globalised problems of the 21st century,” stated Maher Nasser, Director of the UN Information Service in Vienna.

“The particular themes that are especially interesting to young people, such as climate protection, poverty reduction and peace-keeping, require active international commitment and networking. It must be our common concern to make this clear in schools. With these teaching materials on the UN, we are helping to do just that,” stated Spindelegger.

2,700 copies have been sent out to all Austrian schools with secondary levels I and II. All the materials – worksheets, supplementary texts, quiz, overhead transparencies - are available free of charge from "Together Strong" as well as on the following homepages: Federal Ministry for European and International AffairsFederal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture and UNIS Vienna.

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Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs
Mag. Valerie Hauff
Tel.: +43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550, 3739
Fax: +43 (0) 50 1159-204

Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
Nikolaus Pelinka, MSc
Tel.: (+43-1) 53 120-5030

United Nations Information Service (UNIS)
Elisabeth Wächter
Tel.: +43-1-26060 3348