By Johnston Chengo
St Thomas Girls High School in Kilifi Town will represent Kenya in the Pan Africa Debate Competition to be held in South Africa this month.
Girls from the school’s Amani Club secured the chance after winning the inaugural Mwalimu Nyerere Schools invitational debate championship of East Africa in Dar-es-Salaam.
In the East Africa debating competition, Ribe Boys, Musoli Girls, St. Thomas Girls, Mukumu Boys, Marereni Mixed Secondary and Sigalame Boys represented Kenya.
They represented the country in various categories ranging from Debating, public speaking and Essay writing.
Students tackled topics including peace, East Africa integration and regional cohesion with the aim of improving their cognitive skills and emerging co-curriculum activities with the conventional studies.
“This was our first East Africa debate engagement and we were a bit tense. Our teachers guided us on what we needed to do and that opened our minds. We won medals and a trophy. We look forward to scooping more awards in the Pan Africa championships,” Latifa Musa a form two student.
Hajra Ali said in the competition they feared mostly Sigalame boys and always prayed they would never meet in the finals.
“Sigalame boys bragged a lot on our way to Tanzania. We travelled together as team Kenya but they would always threaten us with tough vocabularies. In most cases during the trip, they would communicate just to themselves and this really worried us but on the debating floor we deconstructed them,” she said.
She said she was also shocked to learn that Tanzanians can speak good English.
“The debate was held at the Shaaban bin Robert secondary school which is an international school. Most of the debaters from Tanzania were from international schools and they speak better English contrary to the common believe that Tanzanians speak only Swahili,” she added
At least 50 secondary school students from Amani club are expected to take part in the Pan Africa debate championship in South Africa on December 12 to 18 this year.
Philip Odinga, the patron of the Amani club said they have already set their mind on the competition in South Africa.
“The topics will be given ten minutes to the debate. This means we will only have ten minutes to prepare. We are ready to handle any school in the continent and we are well prepared,” he said
He said the school is sending two teams of five students each to the competitions.
St’ Thomas Girls Principal Eunice Mwaiseghe said the school is proud to represent the country in the competitions.
He called on the County government and well-wishers to support the school to attend the competition.
She said the school needs about Ksh 1 million to attend the continental event.
“Each student will require slightly above Ksh. 36, 000 for their visas. They also need return air tickets and accommodation together with their teachers. We are currently working on their passports and hopefully we will be able to secure them before it is too late,” she said
Amani club was formed in 2016 by the National Cohesion and Integration commission (NCIC) in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to promote peaceful co-existence in learning institutions.
Faith Wayuwa, one of the students said Kenya has a lot to learn from Tanzania.
“We had an amazing tour and as Kenyan students, we have learned that our neighbours Tanzania are giving prestige to their former leaders like Mwalimu Nyerere and value their cultural heritage a great deal,” she said.