Pupils deal with real issues at debate

Rocklands High School pupils with teachers and Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, on the left.

Focusing on topics that have made headlines across the city recently, two Mitchell’s Plain schools took part in the annual Ward 78 debating competition at the Lentegeur sub-council chambers last week.

The competition was hosted by Westridge Library and Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, on Thursday October 12.

Portland High School and Rocklands High School pupils took part in the competition – but it was Portland who took home the trophy.

The topics debated were, bringing back corporal punishment, allowing pupils to have different hairstyles, and water shedding.

They were mobilised by senior librarian Allison Jantjies who entered the two teams of five pupils. However, each team was only allowed to have three speakers.

The debate was chaired and adjudicated by Jason Davis and Prakasen Naidoo who are both avid debaters with national colours. To prepare the pupils, Mr Davis and Mr Naidoo held a workshop for pupils on Wednesday October 11.

Among the topics covered were time management, preparing for a debate, adjudication procedures and all the formalities involved in a debate.

For the corporal punishment topic, Rocklands Team B were the proposers and Portland Team A were the opposition. Mr Andrews said both teams presented well thoughtout arguments, providing a definition for corporal punishment, speaking about the consequences of corporal punishment and even discussing why it was effective.

The Portland Team B were the winners and progressed to the final round.

On the topic of hairstyles, the Rocklands team A argued to oppose the notion and Portland Team B were for the proposition.

Mr Andrews said the speakers exuded more confidence during this round and the content was stronger. “The hair debate has been in the media recently so the pupils had some reference and also introduced concepts such as individuality, discipline and uniformity,” he said.

The debate was won by Rocklands Team A.

Mr Andrews said the finale topic was new to the debaters but sufficient time was given to prepare. “The topic was ‘This house would allow City of Cape Town to do water shedding’. The debaters were very passionate about this topic as they expressed their feelings related to the need for water versus the scarcity of water. The arguments were mature and the pupil’s personalities came through.

“Debaters were even confident enough to ask challenging questions while speakers were presenting their arguments,” he said.

Mr Andrews said the event is held annually with a floating trophy. “Rocklands high school won last year thus Portland was very happy to be the winners this year,” he said.

Speaker Tyrese Brown from Portland High School said he enjoyed the competition and found it both fun and challenging.

He found the final round’s topic particularly interesting.

“The final round topic was challenging as we didn’t have access to the internet. We then had to come up with facts and an argument based on general knowledge. Fortunately, we managed to come out on top.

“I’m really proud in myself and also my team, because although I won best speaker for the entire debate we as a team won the competition and that means more than an individual award, we as a team made our school proud which was awesome,” said Tyrese.

At the end of the competition the 20 were handed certificates and a stationery pack for participating in the workshop and the competition.

The three pupils named the best speakers were, in first place, Tyrese Brown from Portland High School, in second Jodi-lee Stemmet and third Yamkela Methontsi, both from Rocklands High School.

Mr Andrews said it was the first time the pupils had taken part in a debating competition, but had come prepared for their debate and presented many valid arguments to the topics that were presented.

“We are always encouraging more pupils to access the library. The library resources are available for pupils to access to practice and prepare for debates and other school related activities.

“Next year we are keen to host a bigger debating competition,” he said.