St. Thomas Girls’ High School in Kilifi will represent Kenya in the Pan Africa Debate Competition to be held in South Africa in December.
The girls from the 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 Secondary and Sigalame Boys represented Kenya.
Latifa Musa said the competition was stiff but guidance from their teachers saw them through.
“This was our first regional debate engagement and we were a bit tense. Our teachers guided us on what we need to do and that opened our mind. We won medals and a trophy. We look forward to scooping more awards in the Pan Africa championships,” she said
Hajra Ali said in the completion they feared most 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 English. In most cases during the travel, they would communicate just to themselves and this really worried us but on the debating floor we deconstructed them,” she said
Ali 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.
Shiyanne Dama, a co-patron of the St. Thomas Girls Amani club said the students tackled topics including; peace, East African Integration and regional cohesion with the aim of improving their intellectual skills and merging co-curriculum activities with their conventional studies.
“The competition was stiff but the students did their best. We had the topics to be debated and had enough time to prepare. The debate sharpened our learners, especially in public speaking. They demonstrated their knowledge on various topics affecting the East African community,” she said
Philip Odinga, the patron of the Amani club said they have already set their mind on the competition in South Africa.
Odinga said unlike in the regional competition in Dar es Salam, debaters will not be given the topics in advance.
“The topics will be given ten minutes to the debate. This means we will only have only ten minutes to prepare. We are ready to handle any school in the continent and we are well prepared,” he said
Odinga is optimistic the competition will open doors for the girls.
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 for well-wishers to support the school attend the competition.
She said the school needs about Ksh 1 million to attend the continental event.
“Each student will require slightly above KKsh 36, 000 for their visas. They also need return air tickects 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 coexistence in learning institutions.
The club has been engaged in various activities including; conducting debates, environmental management and essay writing wholly aimed at encouraging coexistence in schools.
Faith Wayua, one of the students said Kenya has a lot to learn from Tanzania.
Wayua said they were able to visit different parts of the neighbouring country and was amazed by their hospitality and cleanliness
“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. Their market is also very clean. They have no time for ethnic profiling,” she said.