The Vice Chancellor of University of Ghana Professor Ernest Aryeetey has said that sports and debate play key roles in the lives of students.
He revealed that the importance of the two necessitated the elevation of sports at the University to a full Directorate, now headed by Dr Bella Bello Bitugu, whose efforts secured the hosting rights of the 8th Pan African Universities Debate championship.
In his key note address at the opening ceremony of the championship at the campuses of Legon in Accra on Thursday he said: “It is clear to us that there are very important life skills, values, knowledge and expertise that help the individual, in both his or her career and life in general, but which are not structured in the formal learning and teaching of our students.
“Some of them are the lessons that we learn in Sports like resilience, time management, focus, concentration, networking, understanding, tolerance, learning to manage both victory and defeat in life etc.
"The other phenomenon is debate. Debate challenges the students to come up with critical analysis, think outside the box, be creative and be able to convince others of why this or that position is best."
The Director of Sports, Dr Bitugu indicated that: “Debate is a particular form of training for our youth who sooner rather than later will be managing our systems. That is why we are imbibing in them these qualities that I will call Software expertise towards innovation, creative solutions, dialogue, tolerance and understanding rather than conflict proned processes, and as we say in Ghana “jaw” “jaw” instead of “war” “war”.
Youth and Sports Minister Dr Mustapha Ahmed mentioned that “…our continent is one made up mainly of youth. In some countries a little bit below half, in some a little above half of the population is made up of the youth. Clearly, the majority of the people on the continent are the youth and they are the ones mainly affected by unemployment and other adversities."
“This event we are witnessing today and the rest of the week is a very clear manifestation, and an example of the contribution an educational institution can make towards addressing issues that affect youth, communities, countries and our continent as a whole. I applaud therefore the University of Ghana and the Sports Directorate who have brought up this very great programme.
“The ultimate objective is not just to win this competition, but rather to enable you take these thoughts home, table them before your colleagues and family members and ignite discussions to see how you can make your very little contribution in your very little world or community towards the progress of Africa.”
About 20 African countries are taking part in the competition currently underway at the campuses of University of Ghana, Legon and it is expected to end on December 17.
LEGON 2015 is in partnership with African Heights Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Ministry of Education and other sponsors.