Sierra Leone: Youth Commission Organizes National School Debate

The National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) yesterday at the Mitta Conference Centre in Freetown,launched a three-day national school debate for schools in Moyamba, Kenema, and Western area rural and urban.

Commissioner of the National Youth Commission, Antony A. Koroma said the project was titled: 'Enhancing youth civic engagement in democratic process in Sierra Leone,' and that the debate was being done in five districts and would be rolled out to other parts of the country.

Antony Koroma said the project had targeted the 2012 elections as there were uncertainty and general suspicion that violence might have erupted during the election, but was not implemented because of certain challenges, although the elections ended peacefully.

He stated that the commission has been implementing various facets of the project including the training of member of the various District Youth Councils in five districts, the identification and training of coaches for the debate, training of debaters and conducting debate competitions in various district levels that culminated to the national debate.

The commissioner added that it was clear that society was dynamic with competing interests and that people must learn to engage and dialogue with school authorities.

"As you grow up in society you have to dialogue and negotiate your way through. There is nothing static in life and the debate will teach the students to make their points without anger or rancor. Smooth words remove wrath and the way you articulate your issue, make you win or lose," he said.

He admonished the school pupils that they should not grow up thinking that the only way to win was to use their muscles, adding that they should think of using their brains and God given mouth to speak and dialogue on issue of importance in society.

He suggested that the debate should be moved to other districts and beyond schools- to youth organizations and District Youth Councils, noting that the process was beneficial and would help youth leaders to dialogue, negotiate, and compromise difficult circumstances and situations at local and national levels.

He cautioned the debaters that the debate was not a 'do or die affairs' but a way to express their views and among other pupils.

Source: Concord Times.

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