Conhill debating league jnr finalists shine at Robben Island Spring School

Last week marked an exciting time in the lives of the Constitution Hill Debating League JNR finalists as they travelled to Cape Town for the Robben Island Spring School 2017.

The Spring School is one of Robben Island Museum’s flagship projects that has been running on the Island since 1998. Every year during South Africa’s spring school holidays, learners from all over the country, and neighbouring countries, arrive on the Island for a week of adventure and learning.

The delegates were immersed in the camp from day 1 – through a simulation of the prison experience. They then met Mr Johnson Mlambo, an ex-political prisoner who was arrested on the Island during Apartheid. Mlambo was their prison tour guide, and he shared his first-hand experience of being imprisoned on the Island.

The theme for this year’s Spring School was “Our heritage, Our future – Social Entrepreneurship in Heritage.” And the delegates were appropriately divided into electives which focused on creating art pieces that tell the story of our nation, and the continent as a whole.

The Constitution Hill JNR finalists performed well. They were the only group of debaters at the camp, and did not miss out on an opportunity to teach others the skill of effective communication. A few of the finalists also shined and became leaders of various activities such as hosting a 3-hour radio show on Bush Radio, and coordinating the presentation of artworks to the sponsors and managers of Spring School.

9/10 of the finalists were first-time flyers, and could not have received a better prize for their achievements in this year’s Constitution Hill Debating League.


Conhill debating league finale date revealed

The Constitution Hill Debating League (CHDL) finalists will have another couple of weeks of practise before their final debate on Sunday, 3 December 2017 at Constitution Hill.

The debaters endured a difficult few weeks of debating this year as they competed in 6 preliminary rounds, and hotly contested break rounds. They will be eager to make sure that they use the time they have till the finale to practise for their last CHDL debate of 2017.

With a number of exiting changes expected at this year’s finale, Tshimong MD, Thami Pooe said that the finale will take place a week before the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, a momentous occasion that is bound to increase support for the debating league.

Although the finale is by-invitation only, Pooe said that Tshimong would be making a plan to broadcast the debate on TV or radio. There will also be an opportunity for people to win a seat at the finale by sharing what the Constitution means to them on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.


ABSA announces partnership with Tshimong at the Brightest Young Minds Summit

Absa’s Head of Citizenship, Sazini Mojapelo, announced Absa’s 3-year partnership with Tshimong at the Brightest Young Minds Summit 2017 held at the Protea Inn Hotel in Sandton.

Mojapelo was speaking at the Absa-sponsored summit where she first met Tshimong MD, Thami Pooe, in 2016. She invited Pooe to share the stage with her, and to speak on the investment that Absa has made into Tshimong through the creation of the Absa ReadytoWork Debating Championship, a debating tournament established in 2017 to teach high school learners important lessons about the world of work.

The tournament was held at Randfontein High School, and impacted 50 learners from that community. Learners received face-to-face ReadytoWork training and had to incorporate the key lessons in debates about people, work, money and entrepreneurship skills. The majority of the learners were also 1st time debaters, and left the tournament feeling empowered to start debating clubs at their schools. Learners from Mosupatsela High School in particular went from having no previous experience in debating to becoming semi-finalists. They were awarded the prize for the ‘Most Improved School,’ and shared photos of a new venture they were starting at their school – the Mosupatsela Debating Club.

Absa’s relationship with Tshimong will see the tournament reaching many more learners in Gauteng. Mojapelo has said that the winners would receive university scholarships. And that the tournament could go national, and even continental.


Bongani Masilela hosts the Africa Lead Conference 2017

Tshimong Director, Bongani Masilela recently hosted the Africa Lead Conference 2017, organized by Wits Development and Leadership Unit in partnership with the Pan African Parliament. The conference was held at Wits University on 12 – 13 September 2017; and addressed the broader, societal discussion about the need to give young people a voice in matters of governance, business and conflict-resolution.

Masilela chaired three panel discussions throughout the duration of the conference. The first was titled, ‘The New Age of African Leadership.’ Siting on the panel was the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Sello Hatang; former African Union Deputy Chief of Staff, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule; and two youth business representatives. The discussion focused on how Africans, both young and old, need to re-conceptualize and ‘own’ the concepts of accountability and transparency in order to improve public sector institutions.

The second panel discussion chaired by Masilela was called ‘Youth Driving Innovation – Unemployment & Unskilled Labour. Is Entrepreneurship the answer?’ Economic growth is a challenge for most African countries, and has led to many people asking if entrepreneurship is the answer to creating jobs and lifting hundreds out of poverty. Many of the panellists, including Tech entrepreneur, Velani Mboweni and Deputy Finance Clerk at the Pan African Parliament, Yusupha Jobe agreed that entrepreneurship can help us achieve rapid economic development. And that education can be used as a tool to teach entrepreneurial thinking.

Lastly, Masilela chaired the panel discussion on, “African Solutions to African Problems,” hosted by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. The discussion centred on conflict-resolution, with a particular focus on the South Sudanese conflict, and how it poses a unique opportunity for the African Union to intervene. Panellists included Spokesperson for former President Thabo Mbeki, Mukoni Ratshitanga; Clement Mavungu from the Pan-African Parliament; and Ottilia Maunganidza from the Institute for Security Studies. It was refreshing to hear the opinions of research experts, the Pan-African Parliament, and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.


Thami Pooe selected as Gauteng schools debate coach

Tshimong MD, Thami Pooe was appointed as one of the 16 coaches that will have the difficult task of selecting the Gauteng Provincial Debating Team, providing training, and judging for Gauteng at the National Schools Debating Championships 2017.

All 16 coaches were chosen based on their personal debate achievements, and their debate coaching experience and achievements.

Thami has been involved in debating for 8 years. When he joined the Wits University Debating Union in 2013, he became a finalist at the Southern African Universities National Debating Championships (Nationals). He ran for the position of Schools Development Officer the following year. And in his final year of debating for the Union in 2015, he ranked 2nd Best Speaker at Nationals, and made it into the semi-final. He also made it into the final at the Free State Debating Open.

Thami has coached Curro Aurora High School for 3 years, helping the school to qualify for Gauteng Provincial Championships for 2 years in a row. This year he began coaching Brescia House School, and helped the JNR team win the Gauteng Debating League 2017 and the SACEE Debating League 2017. The SNR team made it to the Gauteng Debating League final and the SACEE Debating League semi-final. Both teams progressed to the Gauteng Provincial Champions, with one speaker from Brescia being selected as a reserve for the Gauteng Debating JNR Team.

Important to note is that coaching the Gauteng team is a non-paying opportunity. South African Schools Debating President, Phiwe Salukazana, has commended all coaches for giving up valuable time for no other purpose than to contribute to the development of young minds.