LUSAKA, June 24, 2014 – “And the winner of the Think Jobs Debate Series is … The University of Zambia!”
With that announcement, whoops of joy were heard from the packed audience in the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) studio. The four members of the University of Zambia (UNZA) debate team triumphantly bounded toward the podium where they were presented with the winning trophy by Kundhavi Kadiresan, World Bank Country Director for Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
“I am thrilled to see the level of engagement, analysis and passion that was demonstrated by this promising generation,” Kadiresan said. “They have taken the World Bank data, challenged it, drawn upon other resources and made conclusions that are deeply informed and considered. Clearly, there is much to be gained by allowing Zambia’s youth to have a proactive voice in discussions of policy direction and development.”
More than 80 university students across Zambia applied to take part in the ‘Think Jobs’ debate and writing competition, launched by the World Bank in conjunction with the launch of the second Zambia economic report, Zambia’s Jobs Challenge: Realities on the Ground.” Four debate teams were competitively selected, trained by a world-renowned debate expert on public debate skills and the details of the report itself, while 20 students were simultaneously trained by a veteran journalist in the skill of writing on economic affairs for a public audience. Writing competitors submitted their final discussion pieces for publication in a glossy magazine, “Think Jobs: The Youth Respond,” while millions of Zambians tuned in to watch the nationally-televised debate, which was filmed in three segments.
Funded by the Governance Partnership Facility, the ‘Think Jobs’ debate and writing competition was an effort by the World Bank Zambia team to disseminate the report findings and increase public discussion about a topic important to the country. The competition spanned six months, including a demanding selection process, in-depth training, mentorship and a challenging series of semifinals, a survey to identify awareness of Bank research, a youth forum and a “Think Jobs” Facebook page.
“I am pleased that this competition, Think Jobs, has generated public discussion on an emotional and yet elusive subject of national importance, in an informed and evidence based manner,” said Chibamba Kanyama, the director general of ZNBC. Kanyama also encouraged the World Bank to work with media to organize the competition as an annual event to demystify complex economic topics.
Two of the writing competition winners and Delia Banda, named the best debate speaker, were offered internships with the World Bank Zambia Country Office.
“One thing I learned about the Bank is that it is not what I expected because the Bank team listened to us and responded positively to our suggestions,” Banda said in her blog post. “It is important for young people to be given an opportunity to interact with organizations that want to make positive changes in the economic state of our country.”
Throughout the six-month competition, Zambia economic brief and the ‘Think Jobs’ debates have repeatedly been featured across television, radio, print media, and social media throughout the country, reaching millions of Zambians who might not have otherwise engaged in a discussion about jobs and unemployment in the country.
“As we are brought into and connected with such organizations that we have traditionally been excluded from, we can participate in active and equal decision-making at a high level and will therefore move from being inactive citizens to fully engaged stakeholders in developing our country,” said Banda.