The High Schools Freedom Debate Grand Finale in Bulawayo

Who Will Be Matebeleland's First To Win The Inaugural HSF Debate?

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Zimbabwe, in partnership with Contemporary Affairs Foundation (CA-F), is excited to be hosting the High Schools Freedom Debate Grand Finale in Bulawayo on Friday 28, July 2017. The Foundation, in its effort to propel liberal values and ideas to high school youth using debate as a tool, introduced the initiative in January. Ten High Schools in Matabeleland region, where the initiative is mainly focused, were later introduced to the programme in May through training and auditioning.

The first phase involved the training of bright high school students in debate clubs on debate skills using the Lincoln Douglas debate model. This model emphasizes individuality and gives the debater a platform to argue for their value and defend it without the support of 'society' . The model is different from the team debates model. In preparing for the roll out of the training and auditions, five thematic values were identified, namely Life, Freedom, Justice, Security and Equality. These thematic values formed the basis of the training and were critical in the formulation of the debate topics. Students were also invited to research these topics further through reading works of liberal scholars and thinkers such John Locke, Friedrich Naumann, John Stuart Mill to name a few. This programme is an inaugural programme in the Matabeleland region and focuses on Matabeleland North Province, Matabeleland South Province and Bulawayo Metropolitan Province. The Matabeleland region was deliberately selected as it is not only one of the most marginalised regions in Zimbabwe but is a region whose ‘freedoms’ have been constantly thwarted and suppressed by ‘the state’ since post-independence Zimbabwe. Despite such suppression, the region’s culture is strongly liberal and has as such remained the most militant group in fighting for its freedom in the country. 

Some of the topics at the Boot camp and at the Finals are as follows:

  1.     •    The protection of society’s health interest through broad based mandatory testing of AIDS ought to be more important than personal privacy rights.
  2.     •    An individual’s freedom of speech should be valued above a community’s moral standards.
  3.     •    Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified.
  4.     •    First preference should be given to the under privileged in any educational institution.
  5.     •    In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

More than 346 students have been introduced to liberal thinking, ideas and concepts. The Bootcamp is key in further strengthening the liberal networks. Senator David Coltart, the most successful Former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education who is celebrated for achieving his vision of one book per child policy, will be the Guest of Honour at the Grand Finale.  The winner will be announced on our digital platforms in the coming days. #FNFreiheit


"Zimbabwe can be a depressing and repressing environment and at times you work on projects and you feel like you are not achieving the desired outcomes and impacts. We felt there was need for new strategies to unpack liberalism and freedom in an environment where such words have been demonised. We looked at the situation around us and felt that our education system plays a significant role in influencing how we interpret our circumstances and this education system was strongly biased towards socialism. Encountering liberalism begins at University if one has an opportunity to study Economics, Arts and Philosophy among other disciplines. We therefore, felt there was a need to fill in that gap and begin introducing liberal concepts and solutions to our youth. The idea was to begin to plant an appreciation of liberal values among High school students. Our goal is to develop a network of budding liberal thinkers and to further grow an understanding and appreciation of liberal solutions and concepts in a socio-political environment biased towards socialism."