By Kuvee Kangueehi Rundu The Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, John Mutorwa, said debating and oratory remain important and absolutely essential skills and should be promoted at schools. The minister made these remarks on Monday morning when he officially opened the National Debating Championship which started in Rundu. Addressing the nine debating teams from the nine regions taking part, the minister said debating and oratory are important because the modern world is highly competitive and globalized and thus almost everything is underpinned and determined by intense lobbying, persuasions, negotiations and debates. “Remember that as an individual, educated or not, rich or poor, urban-based or rural dwellers, your verbal ability is and will always count among the most important skills you posses.” The minister added that the skill in many respects distinguishes one from others whether in the classroom, the church, sports club, the students representative council, the boardroom or even parliament. “People shall continue to form their opinions of and about you on the basis of essentially how you speak, how you write, what you say, where you say it and why you say it.” He added that appreciating and understanding how to use words effectively can also bring one increased self-confidence, self-assurance and trust. “Consequently, such a scenario would pave your way to success in schools, business, social life and political life, spiritually or virtually in every area of human endeavour, where communication is required and is deemed important.” He noted that other virtues such as persuasion could also be developed, enhanced and solidified through debates. The president of the Namibian Schools Debating Association (NSDA), Kavihuha Mahongora, has become part of the modern life, and needs to be improved. He noted that debate is process, which determines how change should come about. “Debate attempts to justify changing the way we think and live in the world, and debate occurs every day on the floors of the National Assembly, National Council, Regional Council, schools and even in our homes”. Mahongora also told the learners that debating was not for geeks or nerds. “Malcom X, Marcus Garvey, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobuke, Steven Biko, John Mutorwa and many others loved debates, and you cannot say they were geeks and nerds.” Mahongora was also happy about the progress NSDA has made since it was launched on 10th July 2003 by the-then Minister of Education, John Mutorwa. “At the launching ceremony, Mutorwa cautioned the leadership that these days many organizations are launched only to die the next day, and to us this was a challenging statement”. He stated that the new organization was confronted with penniless, inadequate human resources capacity and, worst of all, the lack of understanding on the importance of debating among the education planners and implementers. He said that with the unwavering support and commitment of the Ministry of Education, in particular Mutorwa and current Minister Nangolo Mbumba, they managed to turn challenges into significant accomplishments. “Today is a testimony in its own way. However, the road is not complete until debating is fully entrenched and embedded in the Namibian schools”. The championships which started on Monday are expected to be completed tonight. Oshikoto is the defending champion, and other regions taking part are Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, Khomas, Kavango Erongo and Otjozondjupa. The championships are taking place at the Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School and have been sponsored by Sanlam as the main sponsor, while First National Bank is a co-sponsor.