Living with Wildlife, the advantages and disadvantages


Children debating

The RISE department at Southern Africa Wildlife College has been organising school debating competitions.  These youngsters (above) attend schools in the Manyeleti Circuit, Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, close to Kruger National Park and the College. They are from communities that were displaced by the park.  The students from five primary and four high schools each set up teams, prepared their case and traveled to the College for their competition.  On day one, 24th April, the primary schools competed. In each debate one team had to make the case for Living with Wildlife, and the other team against Living with Wildlife.  Each round of the competition was  up to 15 minutes.  On day two, older children from the high schools competed, debating the same topic.

It was daunting, especially for the younger kids. They had to speak in front of a panel of judges, and an audience – most of whom were strangers. They used English, a second language, and were on video being live-streamed.  Everyone took it very seriously, they had done their background reading, learned their arguments and had facts to support their messages, including local examples like people needing land to farm, some not feeling safe from wildlife in their own homes and when collecting firewood, employment opportunities, income, and so on.  The kids engagement was a joy to see, and some of the humour, irony and communication skills were great fun to watch – definitely some lawyers and  politicians in the making in these schools.

The judges commented in detail, before announcing winners.  As well as the arguments made, they considered presentation skills, clarity, team work, and quality of information.

debating room


After the success in Mpumalanga, a second round of competitions was held in Limpopo Province. Students from four Makuleke schools (pictured below) debated the same topics, with the same interest, seriousness and sense of occasion.  A very worthwhile activity.  Prof is it regionals next, or debating a new topic?


students debating