When a team of young debaters from Rwanda’s Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology (GGAST) lifted the winner’s trophy at the inaugural Africa Debate Championships in Kampala on Sept.18, all attention shifted to how they do it.

Gashora’s win took many by surprise because Rwanda is not known to be strong at speaking English; the language of the debate. Also, these were girls; another usual handicap in the debating arena according to the stereo-type. Finally, these were science students; often taking pride only in calculating numbers and letting them speak.

They are all students of science course like physics, biology, chemistry, and of course the ubiquitous mathematics.

But here they were routing competition from Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan from the East African community and South Africa and Zimbabwe from the South, where English has a longer history of being spoken.

Gashora admits students starting at Senior 4 for a three year course designed to start at the equivalent of the 10th Grade (Sophomore) in U.S. to the Senior year when they are about 17 to 18 years old and are ready to enter higher education; including vocational schools, colleges, and undergraduate university study.

Once in the school, the new S.4 students spend at least one week taking all our subjects before they select the combination they will study for three years.

Currently we offer the combinations which include physics, computer science, biology, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and geography, according to the school website. But all students study English in addition to their combinations.They also have a strong tradition of debating and seminars.

The debating club has been the leading club in the school with almost 80% of the S4 students registered under this club. They are trained in eloquence and fluency, superb speaking, and other debate skills.

The debate brought together students from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as Bugesera District-based school won the debate.

The Express News

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