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Students debate their way to greatness

- Wits University

Wits students debated their way to greatness when they took on students from Cornell University and Midrand Graduate Institute during a week-long debate camp.

The camp, which was held at Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI) from 23 - 27 May 2016, took the form of a student leadership development programme aimed at honing students’ leadership skills, communication skills and imparting knowledge on how to be efficient and persuasive communicators in their respective fields.

MGI is part of Pearson South Africa, a leading learning company and has campuses across South Africa.

Some of the world’s best leaders such as late Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Barack Obama are great communicators who have managed to influence nations through persuasion and robust arguments. These leaders have rallied change, touched the hearts of people and achieved incredible things in their lifetimes, often leaving this world as legends and role models that others aspire to live up to. It is their skill of communication which has set these great leaders apart.

According to Mark Cunnigton, CEO of CTI Education Group, the skills and knowledge the students acquired at the debate camp will benefit them in their careers and personal lives.

“The camp talks directly to Pearson’s aim of ensuring that students leave higher education institutions with the employability skills they need in order to progress in life and contribute to society. Being able to express yourself confidently and articulately are skills most employers find very attractive,” says Cunnington.

Presented by Cornell University’s Dr Sam Nelson, Director of Forensics Speech and Debate Programs, and Lindsay Bing, the Assistant Director of Forensics and Director of the World Debates team, the camp taught students the fundamentals of debating and skills to articulate their ideas in a fun, practical way, whilst engaging in thought-provoking debates.

The daily debating exercises on highly topical issues, challenged students to think out of the box and trained them to structure their thoughts into powerful, persuasive words that will enable them to be strategic communicators within the various realms of their lives in future.

Wits University student, Thuli Lukhele, was excited to be part of the debate programme and said it helped her to develop her leadership and communication skills.

“Strong leadership styles, good communication skills and the ability to work with people are common themes that I have observed among successful leaders that I admire in business, thought arenas, social spaces and academia. These leaders have developed these attributes over time through formal learning, observation and practice. Programmes like the Pearson & Cornell Debate Camp are important because they allow for these crucial skills to be harnessed and mastered,” says Lukhele.