Rethinking the National Academy Program
The rethinking of the National Academy Program has been taking place since 2014, with a great emphasis on changing the inherent perceptions about speakers from disadvantaged backgrounds. This was achieved through various negotiations that took place to implement Academy speaker systems into both the provincial and national selection processes.
These processes, while daunting at first, were worthwhile and have yielded exceptionally beneficial outcomes to debating in South Africa. The inclusion of extra training programs, the obligation for provinces to include leagues that field schools which are under-resourced and the tireless work of coaches from around South Africa have produced the most competitive and broad debating selection possibilities to date.
With the mandatory inclusion of Academy speakers in the selection processes, many new academy speakers from both junior and senior divisions have proven to be fantastic additions to the debating teams of each province. To the point where, in 2014, the Annual National Academy Camp increased the intake of talented Academy eligible speakers, to cover more bases when it came to the Academy Program and to expose more speakers to the type of coaching and competitive debating which they do not have access to within their respective leagues or schools.
The National Academy Program 2017
Currently, the National Academy Program includes a camp, which allows speakers to engage in the highest levels of debating for a single week. However, this week does not translate into anything more than the single week of training, if they must go back to schools and leagues which do not continue this standard of debating.
To remedy this issue, the SASDB Academy Program for 2017 has coaches from the SASDB travelling to the schools which the selected Academy speakers are from and holding training camps for both the speakers and for the teachers and coaches at these schools.
This on-the-ground approach allows the Academy Program coaches to become more involved with the schools and the leagues in which the Academy speakers are involved with. Ultimately, the approach is more holistic, as it aims to deal with not only a speaker’s individual development, but also to improve the standards of debating which these speakers are constantly exposed to.
The National Academy Tournament 2017
Another aim for the 2017 National Academy Program is to set up an international tournament, in South Africa, which includes other countries with similar developmental aims. This tournament aims to expose these speakers to an international standard of debating, which they would not otherwise have access to. This tournament also allows the Program to meet its aim of including this official SASDB team in an international tournament.
The tournament is set to be held in the September holidays, at no expense to the Academy speakers who have qualified. The SASDB has been able to, through fundraising and sponsorship, secure funds for the travel, accommodation and meal expenses for Academy speakers for the duration of the tournament.