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Excitement bubbles at Hanover Park library as local high schools partake in first debate

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Friendly tensions were high at the Hanover Park library on Thursday where Crystal High took on Mount View high in a debate against whether the South African Army should be deployed to quell gang violence on the Cape Flats.  Being the first of its kind, both sides battled under nerves, but it was ultimately, Mount View high who came out victorious after swaying a panel of judges on how the SA Army is of detriment to fighting gang violence across the Cape.

The event was welcomed especially after the Covid-19 pandemic brought most schooling and all after-school curriculum to a screeching halt. According to the ‘dire’ results of the 2021 systemic test in the province, the devastating impact of the pandemic on the education of children was laid bare.

The Grade nine mathematics pass rate was down by 1.1% while the language pass rate dropped by 3.5%.

Community policing forum (CPF) member in the area, Kashiefa Mohammed said the debate created a positive platform for the youth to share opposing views while broadening their horizons.

“We are not waiting on the state to introduce changes in our community, we are doing it ourselves today. These are our leaders of tomorrow and if they stay on the trajectory we see in a daily basis, our future looks bleak. So we are taking back the streets by bringing them into the library,” said Mohammed.

Judge on the panel, Nathan Lodewyk, 41, says he is inspired by the courage of the learners.

“I was glad to see that there are youth that have a positive outlook and want to see a better place and that are willing to make that difference in their community,” explained Lodewyk, who has been working with youth across the Cape Flats.

“I’d like to see more debates,” added Lodewyk.

According to Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Minister Debbie Schäfer, the most important way to claw back the losses was to ensure that every child was at school every day, that teaching and learning time was maximised, and that every effort was made to promote a learning culture beyond the school.

Debate convener, Yaseen Johaar, 31, said the debate has a huge impact on the psyche of the scholars.

“We are trying to raise the bar in Hanover Park. We know that our kids are talented on the Cape Flats but what we need now is to create exposure for them. They deserve to partake in events that leafier suburbs do too,” stated Johaar.

Johaar added this debate is the first of many in the area.

“The kids asked me if this is the first and last, I laughed and assured them this is only the beginning for Hanover Park,” smiled Johaar.


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