Debates: Why students should be encouraged to participate

Students from Riviera High School hold their trophy aloft after winning the competition. Photos by Lydia Atieno

East African Debate Championship 2019 concluded on Sunday at Rwanda Revenue authority, with Riviera High School scooping first place.

The two-day event attracted more than 30 schools from Rwanda and Uganda.

It was organised by Write our World Uganda in partnership with I Debate Rwanda.

The East African Debate Championship is a competition that brings together students from the East African Region to exchange ideas on issues that affect the region.

Students pose for a group photo. 

The event takes place annually, and this time, it was held in Rwanda.

Four schools, two from Rwanda and two from Uganda made it to semi-final—Riviera High School and Gashora Girls went through to the finals.

Under the motion, ‘creating a joint EAC military to address regional conflicts’, the students debated about current affairs, which are matters affecting EAC.

According to Jane Nakaayi, the debate patron at Riviera High School, the aim of such debates is to help students learn and voice their ideas on different issues affecting them and their countries in general.

“Apart from the fact that they are learning, it gives the learners an opportunity to debate critical issues in their country and how unity can be maintained,” she said.

She said Rwanda being a country that is trying to promote the use of English, through such debates, learners have a chance to express their views, do research and present logical arguments in English, which promotes language proficiency.

Nakaayi added that learners always do research on these topics, whereby they get information, knowledge and then present their views.

It also boosts critical thinking and reasoning, which learners need to be equipped with.

“We are having the competency-based curriculum which requires students to do a lot of research and this is what the debate is doing for students,” she noted.

Abdul Karim Mugisha, one of the students who represented his school in the finals, said such events keep them informed on current issues; and as students, it’s important to always be ahead of teachers and know more than what is being taught in class.

All contributors received certificates of participation and the winning team received a trophy along with certificates.