Schools Debates

The Debates project seeks to present scientific information to the youth of South Africa in a manner that will stimulate them intellectually and encourage them to engage each other on science-related issues.

The core objectives behind this project are to:

  • Disseminate scientific information to high school learners in a manner that is both fun and interactive in order to stimulate interest;
  • Facilitate dialogue between young people from all walks of life throughout the whole of South Africa on science, engineering and technology; and
  • Promote science, engineering and technology-related careers to young people in South Africa with the hope that they will pursue careers in those fields.

Further to these core objectives, the SAASTA National Schools Debates aim to:

  • Encourage young people to address key issues facing their communities and the country and to find solutions to these issues through science, engineering and technology;
  • Impart crucial research skills to all participants in the project;
  • Prepare South Africa’s learners for the professional working environment;
  • Nurture assertiveness and confidence among young South Africans – the leaders of the future;
  • Encourage proficiency in English, the generally accepted language of business and academia, by promoting the core principles of good speech-making and presentation skills; and
  • Encourage a pioneering spirit among the young people of South Africa.

How is the competition structured?

This competition consists of workshops, provincial and national competitions. Ten schools per province, chosen by SAASTA on the basis of speeches entered, compete in the provincial competition. Before the provincial competitions, the participating teams will attend provincial workshops to explain how everything works. During these workshops, the topic for provincial debate will be announced and the team’s perspective will be drawn from a hat.

The winning school from each province will move on to the national competition that will be held in Gauteng. Winners of the provincial competitions will be informed of their topic for the national competition after all provincial rounds are completed.

Perspectives of science communication

Application and benefit
Science and technological developments should address the needs and challenges of greater society.

Research and development in science and technology requires significant financial investment but can lead to new technology that has larger economic benefits.

Developments in science and technology are influenced by and impact cultural values and societal dynamics.

Science developments and implementation of technologies takes place within a political environment.

Contest rules

  1. All debates must be registered pupils in grade 9, 10 and 11 at a recognised high school in South Africa.
  2. The contest is restricted to a team of five debaters per school.
  3. The team members of the previous year’s national prize winners (1st,2nd and 3rd ) may not re-enter the competition.
  4. Winning schools may re-enter, however with the different team members.
  5. Dress code for the debaters is strictly school uniform.
  6. Debating teams should be at the competition venue 30 minutes before the start of the proceedings. Late arrival may result in a team’s disqualification.
  7. All content presented by the debaters must be original and the debater’s own work.
  8. Debaters are required to participate in English.
  9. Provincial topic: The workshop facilitators will advise the debaters of the topic.
  10. Each provincial winning team will advance to the national finals in Gauteng.
  11. The judge panel’s decision is final and no discussion or correspondence will be entered into.

For more information, please visit the SAASTA website

2015 SAASTA National Schools Debates Competition

At the beginning of the year, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) sent out a call to interested schools across the country to participate in the 2015 Schools Debates Competition. Schools were requested to write and submit an essay on Do you think hydrogen fuel can be a competitive alternative to other traditional fuels? Content specialists in the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology at the CSIR adjudicated the essays and the top 10 performing schools per province were chosen to compete in the 2015 competition.

Provincial tournaments

The provincial tournaments were held in May 2015. The teams debated fiercely in competition for an opportunity to be crowned as provincial winners so they could represent their respective provinces at the National Competition.

The topic for the national competition will be announced soon. All are advised to be on the lookout for the topic and additional resources.

The 2015 Schools Debate National Competition will take place on the 8 October 2015 in Sandton, Gauteng.

For more information on the competition or if you would like to attend the final, please contact Lithakazi Lande, tel: 012 392 9352 or email