Schools debate project to promote govt activities

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pretoria - Youth from all corners of the country are to be encouraged to actively engage in the government's programmes and policies through the Sanlam-GCIS SoNa National School debate.

The winning high school pupils will have the opportunity to engage President Kgalema Motlanthe on issues that affect them.

The State of the Nation Address, or SONA, is the annual speech by the President outlining governments Programme of Action (POA) for the year.

The President, during his address in Parliament explains what programmes will be prioritised for the year and reports on the progress of government in fulfilling its mandate of a better life for all.

The Sanlam-GCIS (Government Communication and information System) SoNa National School Debate will see High School pupils debating on government's programmes and policies.

Three winners at a national level will be chosen and their speeches and comments during the final debate will be sent to the Presidency with the hope that some of their questions and views could be touched on by the President in the Presidential response to the SONA during debates in Parliament.

District level debates will culminate in a national debate late in 2009 and the ultimate winners will be invited to the opening of Parliament and be afforded the opportunity to meet the President in the year 2010.

The GCIS and Sanlam signed a memorandum of agreement on Tuesday, launching the initiative.

GCIS Chief Executive Officer, Themba Maseko said the project fed into the department's broad strategy in terms of promoting and marketing government's Programme of Action as pronounced through the State of the Nation Address.

He said through such projects, the department was making a tangible contribution to the educational empowerment and social upliftment of South African youth.

"The debate will give them an opportunity to participate and get their views heard on topics of national importance," he said.

Mr Maseko added that this will be important because the youth will be highlighting their views which will be indicative of the thinking of that sector of society and also of the thinking that resides in communities.

Also speaking during the signing ceremony, Sanlam Chief Executive Office (CEO) Raisibe Morathi said she hoped the project would reach the marginalised schools in the country.

"We are hoping that this project will further integrate learners from different schools and get them talking on topics affecting the nation," she said, adding that Sanlam was passionate about contributing to the education of the country.