Langalakhe Mabena,[email protected]
For years, debating has been commonly used as an activity for developing critical thinking skills among humans. Apart from that, it is also a way of developing real-time critical thinking.
Debating is widely used in schools to open students’ minds to real-life situations and train them to handle situations as they come.
That on its own, is a way of grooming future leaders who will be able to handle different scenarios once they come of age and assume leadership positions.
As a way of maintaining the debate culture, Royal Pact Debate Academy (RPDA) is on the verge of promoting debate skills among school students as they have announced the return of their Royalties Debate Open Championship from virtual to on-site events.
The first edition of the championship took place in 2017 with the aim of bridging the gap in high school debating and encouraging critical thinking.
The tournament was created to provide a platform for high school students to showcase their debating skills while also engaging in critical thinking and analysis of current issues.
The dream of the tournament is to create outstanding leaders in the future who are able to think critically and communicate effectively.
The founder and director of RPDA who is also the national debate team head coach Maison Maphosa confirmed the return of the tournament and also explained new developments that have been improved in order to groom fully baked debaters.
“We are thrilled to announce that after a year of being held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual high school debate tournament will be returning to on-site events. The Southern region debates will take place at Gifford High School on 26 and 27 May, while the Northern region debates will be held at the University of Zimbabwe from 9 to 10 June.
“We cannot wait to see the teams compete in person and showcase their skills. The top four teams from each region will advance to national finals which will be held from 28 November to 3 December in Harare. This expansion of the tournament’s regions provides even more opportunities for students to compete at the highest level,” said Maphosa.
Of paramount importance, all participants should be enrolled in high school to be eligible to participate in the tournament which will see the national debate team scouting for talent that will represent the country next year in different international tournaments and leagues.
Maphosa encouraged schools and students from different walks of life to participate in this year’s tournament for it will come with different benefits for the debaters.
“The Royalties Debate Open Championship is a great opportunity for high school students to develop their debating skills, improve their critical thinking abilities, and learn how to communicate their ideas effectively.
“I encourage different schools to participate in this year’s tournament as it is a platform that encourages intellectual discourse and promotes the development of future leaders who will be able to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.
“The selectors and scouts will be monitoring the tournament and select students who will be part of the 2024 debate national team. They won’t only be looking for more than just strong debating skills, but they will be observing how speakers handle pressure, interact with others, and adapt to different situations.
“These are all important qualities that make a great team player and an effective debater. If one is selected, they will have the opportunity to represent the country on the national stage and compete against the best debaters from around the world.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their skills and make a lasting impact in the world of debating,” said Maphosa.
Various schools who have featured at the tournament include Gwanda High School (Matabeleland South), John Tallach High School (Matabeleland North), Dominican Convent (Bulawayo), Pamushana High School (Masvingo), Amai Mugabe Group of schools (Mashonaland Central), Star Leadership Academy (Mashonaland East) as well as St George’s College from Harare, among others.
The RPDA has groomed debaters from high school level to seasoned debates who include Nkosilathi Nkala, Zukisani Nameka, Bongani Dube, Providence Nhongo as well as Menzimuhle Ncube who led the national team as captain in triumph as they emerged winners at the African Schools Debate Championships (ASDC) in 2020 and 2021.
Despite being created for locals, the tournament expanded in previous years as it attracted international attention, with previous editions featuring students from all over the world. In 2020, Bangladesh was crowned champion, while Nepal took the title in 2022.