The art of debate is a valuable skill that every child should develop. Debating teaches children to analyse, rationalize, put forward comprehensive arguments, and disagree politely. Moreover, it helps children improve their academic performance and scores as they learn to research, prioritize and write evidence-based arguments.


“You don’t win a debate by suppressing discussion; you win it with a better argument.”

First and second speakers of both team’s present arguments. The arguments said by the first speaker should be different, and not overlap, with the arguments of the second speaker. The arguments should be supporting your team’s contention (agreeing or disagreeing with the topic). The first affirmative should present the arguments allocated to the first speaker.

Speaker Roles

Debating is a team sport – you must work together when preparing you case and during the debate. Each speaker within the team has a certain role to play. It is important that each speaker understands and fulfils their role.

Speaking Skills

There’s a tendency, especially among young debaters, to fire off facts in a rapid, nearly manic way. You don’t want your argument to be riddled with cliches or tired language. When you slow down your speech, you give your audience and your adjudicator more time to process your strong points. You always want to maintain immediacy while debating, but you want to make sure that you aren’t letting your argument get away from you.


A rebuttal is a counterargument. The speaker should attack the main theme of the affirmative argument, as well as the specific issues raised by the first affirmative speaker. It is important to remember that you are rebutting the arguments the opposing speaker has raised, not the opposing speaker personally.

Debate Experience

Debate produces self-confidence, critical thinking, reading, writing and speaking competencies, content area knowledge, organization and time management, and perhaps most important of all, listening skills. Student debaters take these skills to their classes and their lives, magnifying the benefits of debate as every other class and life experience is informed and facilitated by what they take from debate.

“Knowing what to say is sense, when to say it is intelligence, how to say it is wisdom, why and how to say it is enlightenment.”

Matshona Dhliwayo