National Schools Debate DNA

Will a DNA database curb South Africa’s crime problem? This loaded topic was one of the two topics in the preliminary rounds of the SAASTA national Schools Debate Competition. The competition comprised of ten teams in each province debating in the model UN style. One team from each province moved onto the final in Johannesburg where the winners would win a trip to New York next year.

Discussion during the Grahamstown debate

The DNA Project had representative’s at each of the preliminary debates as the ‘experts’ to discern whether the ‘facts’ presented were indeed facts. After initial statements and rebuttals, the 10 groups had to come up with a draft conference paper, either for or against the topic. Not only were these draft papers very informative, it showed a great insight into the topics, with the knowledge and understanding presented at an extremely high level.

From an economic standpoint, one school highlighted that with the DNA database, crime rates would decrease, thereby making South Africa a safer attraction, thus increasing the number of tourist which would bring more income into our country. Below are some quotes from the conference papers.

“We have discovered through extensive research and communication that this will have positive outcomes to our economy as our reputation as a tourism spot and a good investment will increase and more employment opportunities will be made available and the curbing of crime unlocks the door to all these opportunities.” – Mafikeng High

“ We are aware of the major issue that the society has, which is the issue of the violation of privacy. Having we examined the process of DNA profiling, the process doesn’t in any way reveal personal information such as where you live [..or any inheritable genetic diseases]. The database only promotes advancements in economy, science and society. Noting with approval that this promotes employment, this leads to a happier society. We believe that this will bring down the barrier between the rich and the poor.” – Mafikeng High

The winner for best speaker from Hudson Park High School

Another example of the insight these schools had, one group insisted on an independent auditor of the process to eliminate any corruption.

With this level of knowledge displayed by kids ranging from grade 9 to 11, there is no excuse for ignorance in parliament or the committee on the importance of having a DNA database.

Having personally been to three of the debates throughout South Africa, we can rest assured that the fate of our future scientific endeavors are in safe hands.

Grant Godsmark

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