The Ìbàdàn Schools’ Debate Competition was launched in 2021 following a global pandemic that rocked the foundations of an already struggling educational system. As a team of young advocates committed to improving the quality of education in their community, the team members designed a project to equip teenage students with soft skills and provide them with an outside-of-the-classroom experience that would positively impact their self-confidence and self-esteem. The Ìbàdàn Schools Debate Competition has run for three consecutive years, impacting 1,117 teenagers. The project has since evolved to include an essay writing category for students with speech impediments and other forms of disabilities who are unable to take part in debate contests.


In 2019, LinkedIn Global Talent Trends reported that 92% of talent acquisition professionals indicated that soft skills are as important to hire for as hard skills.

With an educational system that focuses on instruction rather than a wholesome all-round education, it is often difficult for students to acquire the necessary soft skills in school. Hence, projects such as this become very important.


Public speaking is a great way to build personal development, aid critical thinking, make new social connections, develop leadership skills, and advance one’s career.

According to the UN, Africa’s population is projected to more than double to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, representing 25 percent of the world’s population up from the current 18 percent, 62 percent of which will be of working age (15 to 64 years).

To take advantage of its youthful population, considerable investment must be made in the growth of young Africans. Without quality education and soft skills to match, Africa’s youthful population poses a threat as the lack of progress and development will be fuel for instability and crisis in the region.


Exposing young students to the concept of sustainable development is a way of bridging the awareness to action gap for many students.

A combination of public speaking training and sustainable development goals empowers teenagers (13 -18) with the information they need to become not just advocates, but active contributors to sustainable development in their communities.