Ghana to partake in World's Schools Debate Championships …but lacks resources to join other nations in Bali, Indonesia

April 24, 2017
Ghana to partake in World's Schools Debate Championships …but lacks resources to join other nations in Bali, Indonesia

When former American President Barack Obama said: ‘when students participate in debate, they learn to study issues in depth and from perspectives, a skill I use every day in the senate’, Mr. Obama was referring to how he benefitted from debating skills back in high school and how it shaped his capacity to discuss issues.

Nations around the globe have placed prominence on debate from primary school to the university and Ghana is no exception.

But in recent times, debating activities has seen a decline in fortune in the country. Prominent among the reasons is the increment in other extra curricula activities that have now overshadowed debating the country.

 It isn’t surprising that the experts have been criticising the quality of debate on the nation’s premier debating platform, Parliament.

But all hope is not lost. Two organisations, Speech Forces Organisation, an institution that promotes debate and Debate Aboki, a youth led high school debate project by Shafic Osman under the auspices of the University of Ghana Debate Society, are working hard to promote debate locally and internationally.

Through their efforts, Ghana has been invited to participate in the 2017 edition of the annual Worlds Schools Debate Championships (WSDC), the ultimate platform of learning and engagement for young people to address issues pertaining not only their own countries but that of the world at large. 

Through volunteering of time and resources, Speech Forces Organization has trained and groomed eloquent and smart high school speakers who are ready to represent Ghana in its first ever attempt at the World School’s Debating Tournament.

The team comprises Papa Kobina Etsibah and Joseph Kelvin Edem Boso from Presbyterian Boys Senior High, with Wisdom Ndukwe and Sonia Esther K Tetteh coming from Labone Senior High School.

This championship is the ultimate platform of learning and engagement for young people to interrogate global phenomena and propose solutions to the issues we face in the world and this opportunity provided to young people is a prestigious one and students that have taken part in it have historically gone ahead to be successful leaders.

For the past 28 years, debaters, representing various countries have taken part in the championship which is held in a different country every year. The 2017 edition will take place in Bali, an island in Indonesia from 1st August to 11th August.

The challenge: the need for US$27,468

Despite the invitation to participate in the competition, Ghana could fail to take part in the championship due to a lack of resources to take the team to Indonesia.

For Ghana to make history, the team has to raise US$27,468 before the end of May to cover registration and flight tickets for the 10-man delegation comprising of debaters, a coach and three judges.

Taking part in this championship would put Ghana on the map of intellectual discourse but most importantly, spark the culture of debating and civic engagement amongst the youth of the country.

The dream of these young debaters is to represent Ghana in a championship that has had Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair served as past patrons and continues to boast an alumni base of leaders and change makers all over the world.

“We appeal to patriotic Ghanaians and corporate Ghana to support or sponsor team Ghana to debut in the championship this year.

A culture of critical thinking and problem solving is crucial to the development of every nation. By supporting and encouraging young people to acquire these skills, we are directly investing in future generations to move Ghana forward,” a statement from the team noted.

Since its establishment in 2014, Speech Forces Organisation has been introducing the world school format of debating in senior high schools in Accra.

This has been the preparatory works done by the organisation to ensure Ghana joins nine other African countries including Morocco and South Africa to take part in this global showpiece of wits, critical thinking and intelligence.

Debating as an extra curricula activity grooms young people into becoming global leaders and problem solvers. This activity is important in the learning journey of young people who would need the skills acquired like critical thinking to solve the problems around them, public speaking to inspire people to take action, tolerance to help reduce conflict in an ever-changing world that awaits them.