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Swaziland shines in World Schools Debate

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MBABANE – Participating in the event for the first time ever, a group of high school pupils did Swaziland proud at the 2012 World Schools Debate Competi-tion by bringing home two trophies.

The competition, held in Cape Town, South Africa, saw the 47th-ranked Swazis beat even seveth-ranked Netherlands and win the award for ‘Best New Team’.

A total of 48 countries took part in the competition, with England ranked number one and Zimbabwe last.

The Swazi team, which comprised of five pupils from Waterford KaMhlaba and Sifundzani High Schools, also scooped awards for the first, second and third best new speakers at the event although only the first position carried a trophy prize.

The pupils representing Swaziland were Fanele Mashwama, Tengetile Nhlengetfwa, Michelle Vilakati, Junior Ndlovu and Oliver Mills, with Fanele, Oliver and Tengetile winning the first, second and third best speakers respectively.

Swaziland was in the lowest ranked group, Group H, with the likes of Nigeria, Japan, Denmark and Zimbabwe.

Denmark, Zimbabwe, Macau and Swaziland were all newcomers to the competition. Leading the Swazi team were two teachers from Waterford KaMhlaba Mlungisi Lunga Dlamini who is an anthropology teacher and Lisa Mbuli, an English teacher.

Explaining the competition, Dlamini said there were eight rounds of debate before the elimination round and each round was judged by three judges.

The 16 teams with the highest scores by the end of the eight rounds got to reach the elimination rounds.

The elimination rounds began with octo-finals, then quarters, followed by semis and then the finals.

"We won four debates and got 12 judges, the highest a new team has won in the 24-year history of the competition.

"We were short of about two judges to increase our chances of ‘breaking’ into elimination rounds. Again, quite a feat for a new team. We won against Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kuwait and the Netherlands (ranked seventh in the world)," Dlamini said.

He further explained: "We also debated New Zealand (ranked third in the world) and lost by a 2-1 ‘split’ decision. It was a very close round. We were one of only three teams that lost ‘split’ division to New Zealand in the preliminary rounds.

"The Swazi team was in top form. Our ‘Best New Team’ award represents a win over more than just the four new countries," said Dlamini.

Before the competition kicked off, four motions to be debated at the event were announced to the competing countries about a month in advance.

"We spent a month preparing and met for two weeks every day to practice our cases. The other four motions were impromptu and the team had an hour to prepare before the round started," Dlamini added.

 ...Swaziland now ranked 28th in the world

MBABANE – After its success at the World Schools Debate Competi-tion, Swaziland is now ranked 28th after debuting at number 47.

This has given the Swazi team more confidence ahead of the next competition, to be staged in Turkey next year.

"This is an even more remarkable achievement given that we were learning as we went along. We received judges’ feedback after each round that we capitalised on in strategising as we went along. The team had to learn quickly and apply the newly acquired knowledge," Mlungisi Lunga Dlamini, the team’s coach said.

According to him, some members of the Swaziland team boast of debating experience having been part of the delegation that represented the Kingdom at the 2010 African Schools Debating Championships held in South Africa.

During the African championships, Swaziland got to the finals and competed with South Africa, which is ranked ninth in the world.

"We would like to encourage debating in Swazi schools and to make it to Turkey next year where we are confident we will make it to the higher rounds of the competition," Dlamini said.

Dlamini himself possesses considerable debating experience, having debated for three years in the American Parliamentary Debating Association circuit of north-eastern American universities (in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia etc) and represented his university (Franklin & Marshall College) at the World championships in Cork, Ireland in 2009.

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