It was celebration all the way recently, as winners of the Lagos State schools debate season IX in the primary, junior and secondary schools categories were rewarded with cash prizes of one million naira each, while the first and second runners up received N750,000 and N500,000 respectively.
Agbede Senior Secondary School, Ikorodu, emerged the winner of the debate beating Vetland Senior Grammar School Agege and Oregun High School to the second and third positions, respectively.
Community Junior High School, Alapere also won the junior secondary category beating Lagos State Model Junior College, Igbonla and Alimosho Junior Grammar School, Alimosho to the first and second positions, respectively.
The star prize in the primary schools categories went to Ayetoro primary school while the second and third prizes went to Odo-Abore Primary School, Mushin and Onlikere Primary School, Ikeja, respectively.
The keenly contested debate saw the contestants speaking on topics like â€˜In every nation, government are better economic managersâ€™, â€˜Poor background should not be an excuse for failure, â€˜True United States should pay reparation for slaveryâ€™, among others.
All schools that emerged the fourth positions got N250,000 each for their efforts.
Aside their cash rewards, all participants in the finals of the debate, as well as their schools got a cash prize of N50, 000 each, from the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
Speaking at the grand finale of the programme held at the Blue Roof, Ikeja, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule noted that the competition was introduced by the state government as part of well-structured plans to produce socially stable and self -reliant students who can easily integrate into the larger society.
She noted that there has been an improvement in the public speaking and confidence building of competing students on yearly basis, adding that their use of English has developed tremendously.
According to her, â€œTopics are well researched into and the ease with which salient points are marshaled makes the quality of argument and presentation of points very impressing, convincing and highly interesting.â€
She ascribed the brilliant performance of the pupils and students in quiz and debate competitions at the state and national levels as the result of the direct impact of the investment of the present administration in schoolâ€™s infrastructure, capacity building and need specific recruitment of teachers.
Adebule said the government will continue to do everything possible to improve service delivery in the schools, while commending the teachers for working tirelessly to prepare the children for leadership.
The deputy governor advised students to devote more time to their studies and shun all vices such as internet fraud, hooliganism, rape, examination malpractice, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
Earlier in her address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye revealed that 3,015 schools comprising 1,688 public and 1,329 private schools registered to be part of this yearâ€™s competition as against 631 that participated last year.
She noted that the zonal preliminaries for government primary, junior and senior schools took place at the 20 education zones and districts while those of the private schools were conducted by their associations to ensure that their best hands were fielded.
The Preliminaries produced the group of 60, made up of 30 public and private schools (10 each) in the three categories
Adekanye said all the participating students were taken through a grooming session where they were taught how to handle their topics of debate like marshaling their salient points, been conscious of their appearance, use of language, delivery projections and composure amongst others.
The draw to determine which school will be pitched against the other in the competition she observed was transparent as representatives of each school picked ballots from the box to choose opponents and topics of debate.
The elimination series, she noted, was keenly contested, saying, â€œIn many cases, half mark or one mark made the difference in who proceeded to the next level. It was highly interesting and captivating.â€