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Coordinator canvasses promotion of debate in schools


OrituTHE National Coordinator, President’s Schools Debate Programme, Elder Dare Oritu, has called on educational institutions to promote debate at secondary and tertiary levels so as to propagate democratic culture and strengthen unity among youths.

Oritu, who spoke at a forum in Ibadan, noted that debate gives the youths good communication skills right from the secondary school level.

He argued that poor communication has caused so many problems at various levels of human endeavours thereby making it necessary for educational institutions to consciously include excellent communication skills in their training programmes.

He recalled that debate was a common extra -curricular activity in standard schools in Nigeria right from local government to state levels until the culture went moribund.

He said to resuscitate the literary and debating tradition in secondary schools, he put up a proposal to the Federal Government in 2000 under former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

According to him, the proposal which urged government to introduce inter-schools debate competition, was approved and a committee was constituted under the supervision of the special adviser to the president on education, that was how he became the national coordinator with the mandate to propagate the programme to every secondary school nationwide, a function he has been performing since 2001.

Oritu, who is also a member of Tournament Committee, World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC), disclosed that currently, all the 36 states and Abuja have been sending their schools to participate from primary to secondary levels. “So far, we have sustained the competition for primary schools in collaboration with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and States Universal Basic Education Boards annually.

We have also brought together junior and senior secondary school students for debate at state and national levels, “Oritu said. He recalled that during Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary, Nigerian youths came together to mark the event through a debate programme.

Similarly, during Nigerian’s centenary anniversary, all the primary and secondary schools participated in a debate competition to celebrate the event. Oritu said the objective of the debate programme is to foster unity among the youths in the country. It is also meant to promote public speaking skills and the use of debate to resolve issues amicably.

The debate programme has also assumed international dimension. In 2010, Nigeria joined the world schools debate championship. Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom states represented Nigeria in the first tournament held in Qatar.

According to him, Nigeria has participated in the world school debate held in Turkey, Thailand, Czech Republic, South Africa and Scot land.

He commended Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Abia Zamfara and Anambra states which sponsored their students to the world schools debate annually. He disclosed that Anambra and Kaduna states represented Nigeria at the competition in Singapore on July 27.

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