Tuesday, April 12, 2011

They were fun, interesting and novel - Ben Okia, a participant in ACFODE’s Regional Inter Institution Debate Competitions

The Inter – Institution debate tournament which took place on 9th April in Soroti was a competition between 5 higher institutions of learning namely Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), Kumi University, Uganda College of Commerce (UCC), the East Africa Civil Aviation Academy and the Comprehensive School of Nursing - Soroti.

The East Africa Civil Aviation Academy, also commonly known as Soroti Flying School won the final debate against IUIU which ranked second. Regardless of who won, the competition was remarkably amazing and exceptionally successful. This was the first regional debate completion organized by Action For Development (ACFODE) in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Eastern Uganda. In his address, the Chief Judge, Mr. Kenneth Opolot stated that though he had attended many debating tournaments in many parts of the world, he never felt the intellectuality of students like this competition had. He further stated that the students appeared surprisingly eloquent, displayed a great deal of critical thinking and sharpened analysis.

The idea behind the concept of organizing such competitions emerged last year during ACFODE’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations where a new theme ‘25 years of Gender Equality; Embracing the Youth and Looking Ahead,’ was unveiled. Debates were identified as one of the platforms through which ACFODE would involve young people in the promotion of women’s agenda.

Therefore the theme “Involvement of the youth in the promotion of Gender Equality” which in line with pertinent women issues of concern was selected for the tournament. The British Parliamentary Format was used during the debates.

The purpose of the debates was to sharpen student’s reading and research skills and also to mentor them into eloquent, articulate and fast thinking, individuals and to establish debate culture in institutions of Higher Learning of Uganda. They were also aimed at creating an understanding and appreciation among the students the progress of the women’s movement in Uganda and the role the youth can play in shaping the future

The event was graced by presence of the Soroti District Assistant Administrative Officer Mr. Eswilu Donath, LC 5 Woman Councilor Soroti District, the District Community Officer, Chairperson Women Affairs Soroti, KAS’ Yusuf Kiranda , ACFODE’s Executive Director – Ms. Regina Bafaki, Ms. Helen Twongirwe - ACFODE Board Member and representatives from other CSOs.

Students showed so much zeal right from the beginning. This was through the use of cohesive argumentation, preparation and use of supporting evidence during the debate rounds.

In her remarks, Ms. Bafaki thanked students for their vested interest, effort and commitment portrayed during the competitions. She urged them to continue promoting gender equality and equity in all their spheres of influence since it is the back bone of development. Ms. Twongirwe in her remarks also noted that the debates were a land mark; for both ACFODE and the participating institutions. She therefore called for continued future collaborations between the two parties and also encouraged students to promote gender equality and equity in all their spheres of influence.

Categories awarded included:

  • The best institution, won by the East African Aviation Academy
  • The most eloquent speakers, which was won by Naweri Alice and Magumba Faisal
  • The best team, won by Flying School team 4
  • Second runner ups, won by IUIU team 3; as well as all the 6 students who debated in the last round

When asked how they were going to continue collaborate with ACFODE to promote women issues of concern, students gave very interesting answers. One noted that in future after getting married, he will ensure that the wife is trained by ACFODE in gender issues. Others noted that they were interested in working with the organization as volunteers to promote the women’s movement. They also showed interest in becoming members with ACFODE. Ben Okia, a participant from UCC called upon ACFODE to further invest in such activities as they exposed students to many opportunities.

All students were awarded with a Certificate of Participation. They were also given a DVD entitled ‘The Great Debaters’ by Denzel Washington. The event ended with a scrumptious dinner and dance.

Click to view pictorial of the event

Submitted By Sandra Nassali

Public Relations & Communications Officer

Action For Development