Debating team to compete at UN headquarters in New York

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Four grade 11 pupils have talked themselves into a trip to New York.

The Gauteng pupils - from Morris Isaacson High School in White City, Soweto, and Linden Hoerskool in Linden, Johannesburg - won the local leg of the worldwide schools' Model UN Debate Competition.

They will now compete against schools from all over the world in the UN building in April.

The team, made up of two girls and two boys from two different communities, beat 27 teams in Gauteng and went on to beat eight other provincial teams in Cape Town.

The competition, sponsored by Education Africa and cellphone network Cell C, had pupils discussing social, political and global issues.

The Gauteng team's three topics were The Brain Drain, The Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe, and Agricultural Subsidies: Trade versus Aid.

Sthembiso Dliwayo and Siyabulela Rampai, both 17, said they had focused on enjoying themselves during the competition and it had worked for them.

Sthembiso said he had always believed in being an individual.

"I don't believe in peer pressure and I joined our school's debating team because I knew that it would lead me somewhere one day."

Siyabulela said he always fancied himself as a Mr Right.

"I've always had a passion for arguments, debating and finding evidence that proves that I'm right," he said.

The boys said the trip to Cape Town had been their highlight.

They looked forward to sight- seeing and buying Playstation games overseas, while the girls had their eyes on shoes and clothes shopping on the trip.

Linden Hoerskool pupils Riette Smit and Charlotte Cronje, both 17, said for them the interaction with the Morris Isaacson High boys, which led to friendship and understanding, had been the best part.

"We were probably the only team that genuinely bonded, and we were equally clued up on issues with help from our teachers and a tutor," Riette said.

"We are planning a visit to Soweto," she said.

Charlotte said her highlight had been meeting constitutional court judge, Dikgang Moseneke.

"We spent the night on Robben Island and we experienced what the prisoners went through," she said.

"It was hard, but it created more understanding for us. We don't expect the internationals to be that hard and we feel ready."