THIS weekâ€™s column looks at the Debate Time television programme, which is a platform, targeted at the youth, for Information dissemination on issues related to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and beyond.
The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with other stakeholders, has for the last four years been sponsoring the Debate Time programme which has now become a regional competition.
The 2014 grand finale, which was held in Livingstone, saw Zambia emerging as overall winners beating eight other countries in the Southern Africa Development Community.The main objectives of the programme are;
I.Â Â Â To educate pupils and the viewers on major issues affecting them and the communities they live in on the importance of ICTs, cyber security and awareness and online risks and vulnerabilities.
II. To propel pupils to learn how to use critical thinking and research widely as these are skills they need in pursuit of their tertiary education and career lives.
III.Â Â Â To enhance public speaking skills in pupils.
IV.Â Â Â To give underprivileged children an opportunity to further their tertiary education through the scholarship award
V.Â Â Â To inform pupils and viewers about what is happening on the African continent.
VI. To enhance cultural exchange among pupils in Africa.
The very first programme which was organised in 2010 attracted a total number of 16 schools and over 50 participants from Lusaka. The winners of the competition, David Kaunda Technical High School were selected at a grand finale, graced by the Minister of Education John Phiri. Other schools from other provinces requested to be incorporated into the competition hence in 2011 Debate Time spread its wings to the rest of the country making it a national competition.
In 2011, Debate Time grew from strength to strength, accommodating up to 80 schools and had the participation of over 240 pupils from across the country. In 2012, Debate Time had an overwhelming response from both the viewers and the schools in the education sector. The programme had grown to accommodate over 100 schools with a participation of 300 pupils across the country.
Following the 2012 Debate Time, there was a call from schools in other countries in Southern Africa to participate in the programme.
This year, the programme was extended beyond our borders to the rest of Southern Africa. Debate Time has since become a Southern African programme with Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Zambia participating.Â Over 120 schools and over 360 pupils around the region participated in the 2014 Debate Time.
The 2014 grand finale was graced by First Lady Christine Kaseba who is also newly-appointed International Telecommunications Union (ITU) e-health ambassador.Â She donated US$10, 000 to all participating schools.
The final was between South Africa and Zambia which was a clash of the titans, pitting two teams of debaters who had emerged victorious in the knock-out stages. It was a pulsating and entertaining final which kept the audience cheering at the debating skills that both teams exhibited. The motion under debate was that â€œThe Internet is not safe in Africaâ€. The Zambian team represented the government while South Africa was the opposition member. It was indeed debate at the highest level and left an indelible mark to both the audience and the viewers. Zambia beat South Africa and was crowned the 2014 Debate Time champions. Minister for Southern Province Daniel Munkombwe was ecstatic and joined in the celebrations when it was announced that Zambia had carried the day.
The ZICTA/Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Debate Time team undertook to ensure that the Debate Time project becomes a regional programme with the participation and impact of the southern African region. This stood out as a major distinguishing factor and yardstick of success for this project for 2014.
In addition, matters of the relevance and enhancement of ICTs in the education sector are not only a national issue but, a pinnacle of development world over.
Apart from debate and the power it has as a platform for information dissemination, Debate Time in partnership with the various organisations such as World Bank, Zamtel, ABE and many more as they continue to change the lives of average individuals in our society beyond just this platform.
This ensures that apart from the sole purpose of education and communication of information on ICTs to our various partners, peopleâ€™s lives are also changed through empowerment.