Dynamite comes in small packages and pupils from Siyabulela Primary School in Langa are a testament to this. The pupils came out tops at the Primary School Debating League junior division and earned themselves a spot in the Maputo Championship next year – if they can get there.
Among the schools that took part in the debate competition, held on various school from August 8 to October 28, were the Grove Primary School, Curro Century City, Bergvliet Primary School, Western Province Preparatory School, and Wynberg Girls’ Junior School.
The competition consisted of two divisions, senior and juniors, with each competing in six rounds. This year was the first time Siyabulela took part, entering a junior team.
Teacher and mentor, Yamkela Dyakopi, who has been coaching the pupils together with Vincent Magoro and Lubabalo Ntsizi, said the school was proud and delighted.
“It’s overwhelming, it is a lot of work and pressure but exciting at the same time. It was not easy for us or them. The process was long because they had to go five rounds. I feel honoured to go on this journey with them because it was the first time in such an environment and they didn’t know what to expect. What makes it sweeter is that we competed against schools with better resources. A township school doing well in such an environment should be commended,” he said.
He said the pupils were very excited about winning the competition but the dream of going to Mozambique might diminish if they cannot get financial support.
“They are very excited but the challenge would be to get financial assistance. We are trying to reach out to companies and any good Samaritan out there to ask for donations or if they are willing to sponsor us. We appeal to anyone who can assist to do so with any little he or she has. It will make a huge difference. It is an open secret that we are in an area where most of the parents are not working,” he said.
Another proud teacher Vincent Magoro said for their children to fiercely compete against the affluent schools and show no fear at their age was very brave.
“It was a tough and nervous affair but our children showed character and resilience. They showed that being at a township school is not a sin, or a sign of stupidity. These schools have teachers that are qualified like those in affluent areas. These kids showed that you do not need to come from an affluent school to be knowledgeable. We never thought that they would come this far. I am so proud of them,” said Mr Magoro.
Children expressed joy to have been part of the competition but agreed that it was not easy.
Olona Sidayiyo said at first she could not believe that she was competing against wealthy schools.
“Now that we won, I feel very proud,” she said.
Her school mate, Kwakhanya Ndzuzo, said when her teacher told her about the debate she was reluctant to take part because she has never debated before.
“At first I was scared because it was only white children and we were the only ones from the township. I am glad because the debate has taught me a lot. I appeal to others to join the debate team and learn a lot,” she said.
Team leader Asitahndile Ngwadla, however, felt the competition was not that challenging.
“I could see they were nervous and I always tried to calm them down. I told my team that even the other schools were nervous because they did not know what to expect from us. All I knew was that I was there to deliver the goods,” he proudly said.
If you can help the pupils get to Maputo call 021 694 2718.