“Debating needs to be revived in schools”

Willow Crescent Secondary School debaters.

The Great Debaters International Association (GIDA)was formed in the hope of reviving debating in schools globally. The association started providing debating workshops and is currently conducting debating sessions for debaters to practice the association’s debating style.

The format and debating style was inspired by the work of professor Melvin B Tolson. His work is demonstrated clearly in his documentary titled ‘The Great Debaters’.

On May 23, Willow Crescent Secondary School in Eldorado Park hosted the first-ever Tolson debating style session.



The topic that the debaters had to discuss was whether South Africa was ready for a female president or not. The affirmative side was Willow Crescent Secondary School and the negative side was Missourilaan Secondary School.

GIDA president, Fika Mbambo complimented both schools and said that for first-timers, they acquitted themselves well of the task at hand. Willow Crescent Secondary school won the debating session by only one point.

Thenjiwe Mariwane, an educator at Willows Secondary School, said, “Pupils from both schools practised hard and put in the hours in order to prepare for the debating session.”


Debaters with Fika Mbambo (right).


She added that the learners did not mind giving up their break times and were always focused during preparation sessions.

Another teacher from Willow Cresent said that she was proud of each learner who participated and who was brave enough to stand in front of an audience to speak.

“Standing in front of people can be so nerve-wracking but the learners from both schools showed us so much confidence. They spoke boldly, loudly and confidently. I am so proud of them.”


Missourrilaan debaters.


Mbambo and teachers encouraged learners to participate in debating sessions because it has so many benefits. GIDA will be hosting debating sessions at schools all across Soweto and the surrounding areas.

“Äfter the exams, Missourilaan will be the host school and I look forward to seeing what the learners have prepared,” said Mbambo.

If learners do well enough, GIDA will make sure that they progress to provincial, national and even international level.


Willow Crescent learners deliberating.




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  AUTHOR
Zoë Van Rooyen

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