Students from all over the world have been in Qatar this week participating in a ‘Mini World Schools Debating Championship,’ with the first day of competitive debates taking place yesterday at the Al Bayan Secondary School for Girls.
The competition is a warm-up for the ‘World Schools Debating Championship 2010’ which QatarDebate will be hosting in February, and as part of their preparations they have invited a number of Arab countries including some that have never participated in debating championships in the past.
Countries here this week include Sudan, Lebanon, Oman, UAE, Uganda, Chile, New Zealand, China, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the US as well as two teams from Qatar.
Yesterday the students debated a number of issues, arguing over motions such as ‘this house believes that adapting to climate change is more important than prevention,’ ‘this house would ban boxing,’ and ‘this house believes that we should not eat meat.’
The teams will each take part in two more debates today, with the top two teams going forward to battle it out in a final debate to win the championship.
The popularity of debating in Qatar has grown immensely since the formation of the first Qatari national debating team in 2008. After their exploits were recorded on film in Liz Mermin’s documentary, Team Qatar, which won the audience award at Doha Tribeca Film Festival last week, it seems that debating’s popularity has received another boost, with students talking about the film and feeling inspired to get involved themselves.
Principal of the host school, Noor al-Mutawa expressed her pride at her school having been chosen as the venue for the debates, and claimed that the act of debating can provide students with a number of “21st century skills” such as critical and analytic thinking as well as presentation skills.
The motto of QatarDebate is “debaters today, leaders tomorrow,” and al-Mutawa was keen to point out that debating competitions offer a chance to develop skills as part of the mission to create “the leaders of tomorrow.”
“It is an excellent way of bringing together students from different countries and cultures and starting a dialogue,” said al-Mutawa, adding “it encourages our students to look at the world with a global perspective which is part of our school’s vision.”
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