File image: Eskom Nuclear Power Station. IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Eskom has launched its first school's nuclear debate programme in Port Elizabeth. 

The three-day programme saw learners from eight schools around Port Elizabeth compete in debating topics around nuclear generation. 

The student's debating skills and reasoning was adjudicated by a panel from Eskom and the Department of Basic Education. 

"This is really a journey for young future leaders to understand beyond what they see and realise.  For you this was the start of the journey and you have become the ambassadors, as you move forward on this journey to make other people understand the positives and potential negatives of nuclear power", said Eskom’s Acting General Manager for nuclear new build, Loyiso Tyabashe. 

"The main objective of the School’s Nuclear Debate programme is to empower learners with debating and public speaking skills. Eskom aims to create awareness about the most important aspects of nuclear power, to bring facts to the fore and to debate, correct myths, fears and misconceptions that may exist regarding nuclear power", adds Tyabashe.

The debate commenced with two schools per cluster competing against one another in separate rounds, debating the topic: “nuclear power plants are safe". 

This was followed by the remaining four schools debating the topic: “nuclear power plants are expensive" on the second day of the programme. 

Lastly, the two finalists schools debated the topic: “nuclear power plants are bad for the environment” on the last day. 

Participating schools

Hankey Senior Secondary School

John Walton Senior Secondary School

Limekhaya Secondary School

Molly Blackburn Senior Secondary School

Moses Mabida Senior Secondary School

Rocklands Intermediate School

St Colmcille Senior Secondary School

Zanolwazi Senior Secondary School

Overall winner

Rocklands Intermediate School - each of its debating team members receiving a tablet, a certificate and a backpack with the school taking home a floating trophy. 

Following winners

Limekhaya Secondary School team members each received a gift voucher worth R4 000.00, a certificate and a backpack. 

St Colmcille Senior Secondary School team members each received a gift voucher worth R2 500.00, a certificate and a backpack. 

All other participating learners received a certificate of participation and a backpack.

Notably, the initiative is is part of Eskom’s five-year Schools Adoption & Skills Development programme. 

The programme is aimed at enhancing excellence in education by providing learning equipment, infrastructure and teacher support resources to schools in the Eastern Cape Province.

"Eskom wants South Africa to have critical conversations around nuclear power and it is therefore encouraging to see young people who are critical in their thinking. We want you to understand as much of the facts and detail, as you possibly can. This is why the structure of a debate is important, because it calls for looking at both sides of the coin. Koeberg power station is for instance, Eskom’s top performing plant, in terms of environmental cleanliness, viability and reliability. The plant is performing at the very highest level of safety and is the cheapest to run, because of the cheap price of nuclear fuel", concluded Eskom’s General Manager: Nuclear Specialist, Sedick Davis. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE