Reflections From The Year Gone By And The Vision For The Year Ahead by the President

On reflection, 2020 was truly filled with a mix of life’s misfortune and the blessings that we often take for granted. One would have never thought that hosting a physical debating tournament would ever endanger the health of participants or that such a social gathering would be considered illegal. Nevertheless, the quiet determination of volunteers prevailed and debating events changed form to fit the current time we find ourselves in. The Youth Derby tournament, the Covid-19 Discussion Panel, the various international tournaments and our own national tournament are a few examples of the quiet determination of the debating community. Always a fitting reminder that courage doesn’t always roar.

The vision for 2020 is a simple one: to continue facilitating the events we initiated in 2020 and to maintain the good work that has been achieved. Where errors are committed, we will endeavour to right those wrongs as we build an inclusive and diverse community. We also hope to continue the work of bringing provinces such as the North-West and Mpumalanga into the community and helping them start-up the tournaments and leagues that we know bring speakers so much joy and development. I am truly proud of every speaker, adjudicator, and coordinator that made 2020 a year for the record books. I remain hopeful that the year ahead, with its expected ups and downs, will be a good one.

Tlou Mashitisho

1st Asia World Schools Debating Championships

OVER 200 students from nine territories came to Thailand to participate in an international debate tournament. Held under the theme of “It’s Our Turn”, the first Asia World Schools Debating Championship ran from August 1-7 at the Anglo-Singapore International School in Bangkok.

The South African Schools’ Debating Board sent two teams:

South Africa ‘A’ Team 1 (SAA1) consisted of Sam Musker; Emma Buckland; Ilan Malkin and Desmond Fairall. South Africa ‘A’ Team 2 (SAA2) consisted of Kate Dewey; Bettina Buabeng-Baidoo; Laurian Polkinghorne and Amelia Warren. Coaches: Phiwe Salukazana and Christopher Hojem. Adjudicator: Jolandi Swanepoel

Seven preliminary rounds were held for both prepared and impromptu motions. The teams competed in the knock-out debates, which saw Singapore and South Africa duelling in the grand finals on the motion: “This house supports an independent state for the Rohingya”.

Members from both teams presented constructive arguments opposing and proposing the creation of a Rohingya autonomous state, touching on the subjects of persecution, the right to self-determination, sectarian conflict and economic repercussions.  The HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Cup went to Anglo-Chinese Junior College of Singapore.


SAA1 broke 10th and made it to the Grand Final and SAA2 broke 5th and made it to the Octo-Final.

All our speakers ranked in the top 30:

  • Ilan Malkin – 3rd
  • Emma Buckland – 5th
  • Bettina Buabeng-Baidoo – 9th
  • Kate Dewey – 11th  
  • Sam Musker – 12th
  • Amelia Warren – 17th
  • Desmond Fairall – 28th
  • Laurian Polkinghorne – 30th

Julie Sutanto, director of schools at Anglo-Singapore International School, said debating was a major tool for communication and discussion in both the local and international arenas. “We want youths to learn the importance of effective communication in various situations and to demonstrate that differences can be resolved through tolerance and understanding. Through debate, students learn to discuss global issues and create a public dialogue in an organised way,” she said.

The next Asia World Schools Debating Championship will be held in Bangkok at the same time next year.

Call for writers

Dear debating community,

The SASDB is starting up a new blog right here on this website! It will be a place for reports, editorials and discussions on schools debating in South Africa and the world. Are you interested in being a contributor? We’re looking for school debaters and adults involved to report on tournaments and debating events, to send in their opinions, and discuss hot-button issues in debating at the moment.

If you’re interested in blogging for the SASDB, either are a regular gig or for a once-off piece, drop us an email at

We hope to see plenty of submissions!