6 September 2023 Forty-eight finalists comprising 6 members of 8 teams from 8 provinces are the finalists of the annual seven-week-long #Youth4SaferSouthAfricaDebate (#Y4SSAD) national debating championship. They qualified from more than 200 learners enrolled at 26 schools countrywide in communities troubled by gangsterism, bullying, violence and substance abuse to participate in Safer South Africa Foundation’s (SSAF) annual national #Y4SSAD competition finale.
In its third annual installment, the competition will be held on September 9, 2023, in Boksburg, Gauteng.
This week, the finalists have received their topics of debate, which have been drawn from the outcomes of the recent BRICS Summit. The topics are centered around how South Africa can be positioned as a more attractive investment destination through positive economic reform that utilises an integrated transport network and robust upholding of the rule of law.
Over a six-week period, competitors in this public speaking, speechcraft, and thought leadership series have received mentorship and training facilitated by the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and The Training Firm (TTF). Participants were selected from a pool of high-performing learners who submitted winning essays from all the schools that completed SSAF’s flagship crime prevention course, the Communities and Justice Programme (CJP).
The debating rounds to this point were conducted virtually over weekends, involving two hundred and fifteen learners in grades 8–11 from schools in eight provinces (all except for the Northern Cape).
“The quality of the debates has been something to behold. The learners have prepared thoroughly, having taken on all the training and practice we give them. Now the best of the best will be facing off to see who will lift the trophy,” says retired General Riah Phiyega, CEO of SSAF.
The #Y4SSAD is part of efforts led by SSAF to intensify crime prevention at schools through their flagship CJP. This is done in collaboration with the SA Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, Magistrates, Correctional Services, the Department of Basic Education, the SA Human Rights Commission, and the Banking Association of South Africa.
“The major benefit of this programme is improved learner behaviour, both at school and at home. The multi-week programme prepares students to speak, present, research, and participate in advocacy. All of these are necessary life skills that will stand the learners in good stead in their future careers.”
The programme is intended to empower participants, made up of young people from a wide range of marginalized geographies across the country, with invaluable insights and skills to enable them to speak confidently in public.
During the debating series, learners competed with each other to qualify to represent their respective provinces, culminating in the National Debate Thought Leadership Festival that is happening on September 9, 2023. The participating schools, representing the provinces, are as follows:
Adjudicators and trainers are members of the various partners of the CJP as well as The Training Firm.
SSAF CEO concludes, “The insights and ideas for improving road safety, crime prevention, and security that come from these young minds during these debating sessions are astounding! It is a refreshing change for the youth to be teaching us new things and helping us to secure a better and safer South Africa for them and their children’s children!”