Debates a critical part of education

Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda,the director Education Standards, hands over the award to students of Cavendish University after winning the 5th University debate chamionship. PHOTO BY RAJAB MUKOMBOZI

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When 21 universities gathered at Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara for a debating championships recently, the necessity of debates in schools was raised.

“There are schools that have totally neglected critical parts of the education system; the head, heart and skills and only concentrate on the head thus loading students with tests, notes just to pass exams. These are responsible for the poor quality of young generation in terms of employable skills, attitude and values,” said Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda, the director Education standards in the Ministry of Education and Sports.
She said this while officiating at the closure of the debate championship at Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara recently.
According to Dr Turyagyenda, today employers are faced with a dilemma of employing graduates with first class degree and good grades that cannot perform to their expectation causing employers to wonder whether they went to school in the first place. “They are corrupt, cannot deliver simply because they lack other aspects of education such as values, attitude and skills,” she said.
More than 200 university students from 21 universities took part in the 5th championship which was under the theme ‘Governance and leadership in Africa; the role of meaningful participation of young people’.
Cavendish University Uganda emerged the winners of the event that was organised by Uganda Dialogue Arena (UDA) and ActionAid International.
Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) were first runner up, Makerere University second runner up and Kampala University (KIU) came third. Former Uganda National Examinations Board chairman now education consultant and the patron Uganda Dialogue Arena Fagil Mandy said while the young people remain better placed to transform and revolutionalise Uganda and Africa in general, they have not been given space to participate in issues that can affect this.

Critical thinking
But Dr Turyagyenda said aware that more than 70 per cent of the Uganda’s population is below 30 years, they will offer students a platform to bring out ideas, thought processes, and issues that affect them now and the future and see schools and institutions pick them and blend them with current occurrences.
“The world today does not need certificates, first class degrees but values, good attitude, skills and tolerance. That is why as a ministry we are moving to crack down on schools that have neglected other aspects of education and concentrated on grades alone,”Dr Turyagyenda added.
Fredrick Musimenta, the guild president of Bishop Stuart University, said Uganda is dominated by young people who must be brought on board as leaders now and not the future. “It is, therefore, imperative to have the young people inducted on matters pertaining leadership and active involvement in problems affecting them,” he said.
Bishop Stuart University vice Chancellor Prof Mauda Kamatenesi said debates are helpful in critical thinking and articulating issues. She appealed to Uganda Dialogue Arena to always organise debates on topical issues to enable the country achieve sustainable development.
•Improved critical thinking skills
•Acquire better poise, speech delivery, and public speaking skills
•Increased student retention of information learned
•Improved listening note-taking skills and increased self-confidence
•Enhance teamwork skills and collaboration
•More confidence to stand up for the truth when a discussion is promoting falsehoods or inaccuracies
•Learning better ways to state one’s point
•Help students identify holes in their theories and concoct more balanced arguments
•Help students better structure their thoughts