While very little is known about the life and times of Apartheid struggle icon, Peter Swartz, the Free State Department of Education is ensuring that this will not be the case for future generations. Through the first annual Life & Times of Peter Swartz Debate Competition in which more than 40 learners from five different primary schools in the Motheo District have participated, more children now know about Swartz and his contribution to the struggle.
These debates were held on Saturday 30 September at the Heide Primary School in Heidedal. The debates not only served to inform learners about Swartz but also about the history of South Africa. “This event was also to honour Swartz as an active member of the ANC as well as for his contribution to the coloured community in Bloemfontein,” a statement issued by the provincial department read.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically, in this case about the history of our nation and how South Africa changed to become what it is today,” said MEC Tate Makgoe.
Nephew of Swartz and CEO of the Foundation named after him, Stanley Denvor, said the event was a roaring success and he was pleasantly surprised at how well the children’s arguments were despite their tender age.
“The competition was meant for children between Grades 4 and 6 but they made such intelligent statements that one could have sworn they are politicians,” he exclaimed.
“I believe there was an element of patriotism. Perhaps it was more successful here because it was Peter’s home. It can’t be said for sure why it succeeded this time, but I am happy it did,” Denvor said.
The winner of the competition turned out to be Marang Primary School, which is in the Bochabela Township in Bloemfontein.
Among those who participated in the debates were Olympia, Atang, Joe Solomon, Rekgonne, Kamohelo, and Grasland primary schools.