The First IREN National High School Debate Competition on Development

Published on 17th October 2006

From James Shikwati (Director IREN Kenya)
Tel 254-20-2731497 Cell 0733823062
Email james@irenkenya.org

On 14th October 2006, The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) hosted the First IREN National High School Debate on development issues at the Panafric Hotel. The event was a culmination of a two month process, where high school students from all over the country were invited to write essays on: The Effects of Corruption, Privatization and New Technology on a Nation’s Economy. Out of over 200 essays submitted from 27 High Schools, 30 best students were selected to participate in this event. Close to 200 people attended the one day event including students and teachers drawn from 17 High Schools, judges, members of the press and observers.

Sponsored by IREN and POSTBANK, the historical event in Kiswahili language was graced by Swaleh Mdoe a leading Television News Anchor at the Kenya Television Network. He doubles up as an author and a News Editor at KTN. Speaking at the event, Mdoe hailed the initiative stating that it was a move towards the right direction in a fast integrating East Africa. He wondered why Kenyan publishers are keen on embracing a corrupt version of Kiswahili (Sheng) despite the obvious fact that no standard sheng exists in the region.

“It is sad to see our Tanzanian and Ugandan brothers communicating in Kiswahili during the East Africa Legislative Council meetings while their Kenyan counterparts insist on communicating in English,” Mdoe pointed out.

Swaleh Mdoe presents a dummy cheque worth 10,000 to Boniface Andenga which was donated by Postbank. Looking on is James Shikwati, Director IREN and Jacinta Njoroge of Postbank
“High School students are not ignorant of the effects of Corruption, Privatization and New Technology on the economy. Leaders and policy makers should be invited in future events to hear how their actions upset citizens, and glean a way forward,” he continued. 

Teachers commented that the event was bound to raise the standard of Kiswahili in High Schools and should not be treated as inferior to other subjects, as it is the language of integration.  Jacinta Njoroge of POSTBANK hailed the discussion themes. She said that the youth should embrace economic principles of working hard to earn, save and invest while in school.  

James Shikwati, Director, IREN, noted that “The nation is in need of business minded youth who are able to make informed decisions and articulate economic principles in a language widely used in enterprise transactions.” Noting that people are champions in various fields, he urged everyone present to strive for excellence in their respective fields.

From Left to Right Leah James Machaki, 2nd Runners Up, Boniface Andenga, Overall Winner and Esther Wekesa, 1st Runners Up.
Boniface Andenga of Good Shepherd High School emerged the Overall Winner and received a cash price of Kshs 10,000 donated by POSTBANK. The firm also donated a trophy for the best school, which was won by Maasai Boys High School. Esther Wekesa of Lugulu Girls High School and Leah James Machaki of Maasai Girls High School emerged the 1st and 2nd Runners up respectively. They were awarded Kshs 7,500 and Kshs 5,000 respectively, donated by IREN. All students who participated received a copy of Jasira za Jonathan Gullible: Mtalaa wa Soko Huria, published by IREN, which has been recommended by K.I.E as a class reader. 

IREN is keen on inculcating sound economic policies and wealth creation ideas to high school students as well as promoting Kiswahili in developmental issues. The National High School Debate will be held every year. 


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