Phoenix Learners Represent S A in World Debates

Satyagraha Reporter

In South Africa National Water Week is commemorated during 17-22 March. The theme for National Water Week 2008 is “Water: sustaining lives, enabling growth.”

Solvista Secondary School hosted a public forum debate at the AM Moola Spes Nova Hall in Phoenix on March 12. The event was held in partnership with Umgeni Water, eThekwini Water and Sanitation, KZN Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, Siza Water, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Umgeni River Bird Park. Many learners from schools across KwaZulu- Natal attended the event.

Public forum debate is widely used in American schools. In this debate the audience serves as judges. They are given ballot sheets after the debate to indicate whether they are in support of the affirmative or the negative team.

The topic for the public forum debate was “Should water be considered national property?  The affirmative team comprised of grade 12 learners Joelene Duleep and Renita Balgobind and the negative team comprised of Justina Chetty and Tiffany Chetty who are also in grade 12. Each of the learners presented sound arguments against adopting the resolutions. This was followed by a question and answer session. The learners addressed the issue of water scarcity and the need for sustainable management of water. They also spoke on the role of water in eradicating poverty and contributing to underdevelopment in South Africa.

Solvista Secondary School is situated in Phoenix and  has been involved in debates since 2003. The school has won every major debating contest in KwaZulu –Natal and is now considered to be KZN's premier debating institution.. Solvista Secondary school is affiliated to the Phoenix Debating league and follows the Worlds' Schools Debating Style. Debates are held after school hours, on a weekend. Learners are coached by educator Shakila Kooblal. Kooblal is not only a dedicated educator – she is also the founder of the Phoenix Debating League and serves on the KZN and recently SA Schools' Debating Boards. She has also adjudicated at the last two World Championships in Wales and South Korea.

Top Honours
Three learners from Solvista have achieved their South African colours in debating. Quintin Moodley represented South Africa at the World Schools Debating Championship in South Korea from 2 to 12 July. The South African team was placed 8th. The second debate team represented South Africa at the International Debate Education Association World championship in Czech  23 July to 05 August included Krelin Naidoo and Jolene Duleep (KZN). They were placed 2nd, the highest ranking of any South African team at this tournament. In addition, Krelin Naidoo is ranked in 11th place among the World Debaters at this tournament.

What is the Global Debate?
The global debate is organized by The People Speak which is a campaign to engage young people on global issues that will shape their future. They hope to inspire young school children to be world leaders and innovators. The Global Debate contest has a grand prize trip in July of 2008 to the United Nations in New York for six international (non-American) schools.

There are 293 schools participating globally.  The results of first debate votes held in October 2007 see Solvista Secondary in third place world wide. Debate coach Kooblal says “Our students have had outstanding achievements which show the skill of the debaters in South Africa and it serves as an inspiration to other learners to engage in debates.”

Last year South Africa was placed 2nd in the ‘Idea Debates Championships’. “This shows how well we are doing and all learners that participated were ranked in the top 50 in the world,” added Kooblal.

Kooblal also highlighted the importance of learners getting involved in extra curricular activities. “Participating in the debates has contributed positively to learners’ academic performance. Learners are required to put in a lot of research and access information from print and electronic media and in the process become information literate. Our community is so ravaged by violence and debating teaches learners the skill of fighting with words rather than action. It teaches them to listen to other people’s point of view and respect it and in turn express themselves or their difference of opinion.”