Monday, September 28, 2020

War of Words as Schools Debate League 2010 heats up

Al Nur School has emerged as the front runners of the Schools Debate League 2010 after two rounds of fierce debate.

Al Nur, who came into the tournament as one of the leading contenders to finish the league as champions, started with an away victory against Ledumang School in round 1 on the motion that “This house would remove all pictures of the President from public buildings”.

The motion required an analysis followed by argumentation around the principals and motive underlying the popular custom of posting the President’s picture on almost all public buildings. The case was correctly set up by an Al Nur debater when he broadly defined the motion such that the debate was not on a specific President but rather on the principle behind the custom.

This was followed by a victory on home turf against Maru-a-pula on the motion that “This house would attach academic performance to student allowances”, a motion that required debaters to have some understanding on the topical and current affairs taking place in Botswana.

It also presented these young students with an opportunity to be introspective about their own expectations, legitimate or otherwise on government’s obligation to offer them financial assistance with their own tertiary education.

The best debate of that round, however, came from the contest between Legae Academy and Westwood at Legae, where Westwood emerged victors after a close debate.

Prime minister (the first speaker) from government (Legae) defined the motion to the effect that government’s policy to attach students performance to academic allowance would only apply to personal allowances and not affect tuition and book allowances.

Prime minister cited the recession and economic constraints on government’s budget to justify their policy as a cost cutting measure to reduce spending and redirect funds to high priority national development projects.

Governments policy was met with discontent from Westwood’s by Ethan Wilson who, as leader of opposition (oppositions first speaker), immediately attacked the policy, firstly on the basis that government had failed to establish any peculiar wrong in the status quo, and had also not justified to the house why the policy should only apply to living/personal allowances as opposed to tuition and other types of allowances.

Ethan posed the question to his opposite members, on what would occur to students who continue to fail despite government reducing their personal allowances? What other measures would government then take against such students if they continue to underperform despite the application of government’s narrow policy.

Surprise front runner for individual best speaker of the league after two rounds Gorata from Westwood won the round for her school and advanced arguably the best arguments against any government policy to attach academic performance to student allowances when she pointed out firstly that, such a measure cannot be justifiably applied as a matter of policy because of considerations on the wide variety of personal, physiological, social, and even biological reasons in the instance of female students, which might cause students to underperform.

Beyond that, the cause for underperforming might actually arise from poor teaching practices and other causes deriving from the academic institutions themselves and their respective managements as opposed to the students. Gorata also warned the house of the social ills that she contends would arise if such a policy were to be adopted.

She cites that students would look for alternative ways to earn and increase their monthly income, that such endeavors may lead students into a life of illegal and/or immoral earnings, and that even if such earnings were legitimate and legal, the policy would increase bad academic performance as students pre-occupy themselves with trying to earn a necessary living to survive as opposed to focusing on their studies. 
Gaborone Secondary School and Livingstone Kolobeng College are the other two sides in the League to go through Round 1 and 2 with straight victories. Both schools won the first round against Maru-a-pula and Westwood respectively, and were awarded victories by default against Rainbow High School and St Josephs College in round two.

Naledi Senior Secondary, a school nicely positioned in the league after two rounds, also won the bragging rights for being the most crowd pulling team in the league with a high turnout of support from students, teachers and staff members in their first round at home against St Josephs.

Watch this space for Round 3 and 4 this Friday the 26th and 27th of March.

The motion for round 3 is: This house would support Botswana’s bid to host the African Nations Cup in 2012.
The motion for round 4 is: This house would force government to give financial assistance to pregnant teenage mothers.

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