Nigeria: Culture of Debates in Public Schools

21 May 2024


· The Lagos State primary school debate is an avenue of mentorship and inspiration to the young on leadership, writes TUNDE JAKANDE

·· The 2024 and second edition of the All Public Primary Schools Debate Competition is around the corner. It is an event organized by LG News Academy (LGNA) International in partnership with the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria. The competition aims to promote effective communication skills, critical thinking, and confidence building among public primary school pupils in Lagos State.

· The finals of this event is scheduled to take place on June 13, 2024, at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, and earlier involved over 1017 public primary schools across the six Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) districts in Lagos State.

·· Recently when I addressed a select group of journalists, I noted that LGNA's contribution to this public primary school debate is a reflection of our commitment to impacting the state positively, noting that our actions are also a demonstration of unflinching support for Lagos State government and the State Universal Basic Education Board SUBEB efforts at improving public education especially basic education in the state.

· We can keep complaining, upbraiding and criticizing government constantly but we also have the option of taking up the gauntlet in a well spirited challenge as good citizens and indigenes to further help ameliorate the issues of public primary school education in Lagos jointly with the state government. For us in LG News Academy, we have chosen to continue to initiate and execute projects and programmes that help make the system function better for young people the age of 35 and below. This project is also aimed at providing mentorship and inspiration to young people on attaining leadership and excellence in their career paths.

· It is our belief that we do not need to hold top private or public office positions to impact lives and contribute our quota to the development of the 'Greater Tomorrow' in our society. Our core objectives is to encourage articulation of thoughts and the art of speaking amongst pupils in public primary schools, help to generate effective critical thinking on issues in the topics assigned, promote excellent oral and written communication skills, develop effective tools for research, seamless organization, presentation and assist in building confidence and boldness needed in an ever continuously evolving global community.

· The exercise aspires to encourage and build inter - personal skills among peers and colleagues, promote dialogue as tool for resolving disagreements and conflicts, create attractions and build an understanding and tolerant community among students.

·· To ensure a bigger, better and more impactful debate competition, this time around, LG News Academy has reached out to friends and strategic partners to join forces in hosting the event, in which many continue to make meaningful contributions while also receiving moral support from others.

· The organizing committee will at the end of the exercise publish a close out report on the competition.

·· Last year this same competition, witnessed an impressive turnout in the early stages of the competition held across various LGAs in Lagos state.

·· Last year's competition featured some gamut of thought- provoking topics tackled by these young pupils, ranging from issue on necessity of naming national landmarks on our leaders who fought for the independence of our dear nation, gender equality in representation at the highest seat of Nigeria's presidency, the porous security architecture of the nation to the possibility of the consideration of death penalty for kidnappers and ritualists especially as it concerns young children.

· The possibilities of exploring compatible Irish traditions to foster global integration and world peace was also explored in debate topics.

·· Going down memory lane, I still remember how in an inspirational oratory and amazing comportment yet riveting battle for the top spot, Orile Agege Primary School making a case for this Irish cultural latitude in integration with Nigeria's came first in the highly contested finals of last year's Lagos State Public Primary School debate competition. St. Francis Primary School, Kosofe Local Government presented a counter argument that Nigeria's rich and diverse culture with a highly significant population was sufficient for the nation, and not look to a comparatively small developed nation of Ireland for inspiration.

· The debate centered around the motion adopting the positive aspects of Irish culture with an eloquent Habeeb Ridwan, of Orile Agege Primary School leading the charge in support of Nigeria embracing cultural diversity that has been the engine of success of developed nations like Republic of Ireland, emphasising our nations shared values and Ireland's economic prowess, its transformation from an agrarian society to a global technology hub.

·· LGNA had always acknowledged the dedications of Lagos pupils and efforts made by its international partner, the Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria at a collaboration that has created an enduring platform for making the competition a resounding success last year.

·· At the conclusion of last year's debate, His Excellency, Peter Ryan, the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, commended the students for their outstanding performances and encouraged them to continue expanding their knowledge, enhancing their confidence. He expressed the Embassy of Ireland's willingness to further collaborate with the Lagos State Government.

· On his part, the Chairman of the State Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Wahab Alawiye-King, expressed his admiration for the students' performances and thanked LGNA for organizing and executing the competition.

· Last year the Irish Embassy presented medals and books to the pupils, while we donated laptop computers to the top three finalists. However, LG NEWS ACADEMY has pledged a donation of one million naira to the winner of this year's All Public Primary Schools Debate Competition.

· .· Jakande, CEO of LG NEWS ACADEMY, writes from Lagos_

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