OPENING EVENT INTERNATIONAL DEBATE
On Wednesday 17th November was the first in a series of events for the international debate that SWA are organising with the FJSS. We heard seven schools clearly detail how Covid and the development and distribution of a vaccine has affected their country, and also the students involved personally.
At the start of the event, opened by Robert Bloomfield, we saw a team of the youngest students involved explain their experience, one student, through a wonderful reading from a braille script. They outlined how the vaccine, for them, symbolised hope, freedom and opportunity. Listening to other schools from England and Scotland we heard about the distinctions between the Scottish and English vaccine roll out, and the impact of each countries vaccination priorities on different age groups.
The most dramatic difference in experience, however, became very clear when we heard about the vaccine roll out and its impact on students from Nigeria and Zimbabwe. We also heard from Peterhouse boys school in Zimbabwe, who explained that the countries budget for the vaccine is 324 million, and that a number of charities are also involved in provided the country with their supplies. They also have a wider range of countries that they are using the vaccines from, including the USA, China and Russia.
The concerns raised on social media have about the vaccines, have been a problem in Zimbabwe with fear of the affects of the vaccine being linked to a religious ‘marking of the beast’, for example. However, of the country’s population of 14.86 million, 40% of the population have been vaccinated. Hearing about the battles in Nigeria to gain and distribute the vaccine, we find a country who has a challenge ahead. The current target of getting 40% of the population being vaccinated has not been achieved, with only a ¼ of that total receiving the vaccine. We were also informed of the levels of scepticism in Nigeria as to whether Covid is an actual threat and the fears that people have of the vaccine itself, such as how the vaccine could make your arm magnetic (that are also seen here to some extent), and that they were being used as lab rats. This gave a real picture of the battle ahead.
The first rounds of the debate are next Monday and Tuesday for the seven teams. The finals of the debate competition are on Thursday 25th November, where awards for all schools will be given and the winning team revealed!
If you are interested in listing into the final debate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org