JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Mountainside Primary School in St. Elizabeth took top honours in the inaugural staging of the South West Primary School Debate Competition.
  • The finals of the contest, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Social Development Commission (SDC), took place at the Black River Parish Library on Thursday (February 13), where Mountainside Primary faced off against Pedro Plains Primary to emerge the champion.
  • The school was awarded $50,000 and the first place trophy, with teachers Sameika Forbes and Phylicia Ebanks named best coaches.

Mountainside Primary School in St. Elizabeth took top honours in the inaugural staging of the South West Primary School Debate Competition.

The finals of the contest, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Social Development Commission (SDC), took place at the Black River Parish Library on Thursday (February 13), where Mountainside Primary faced off against Pedro Plains Primary to emerge the champion.

The school was awarded $50,000 and the first place trophy, with teachers Sameika Forbes and Phylicia Ebanks named best coaches.

Pedro Plains Primary, the runner-up, received $35,000 and a trophy, with third place team, Black River Preparatory walking away with $20,000 and a trophy. Parotee Primary School placed fourth.

All 12 schools that took part in the four-week competition received certificates of participation with Pedro Plains Primary sixth grader, Maurice Rowe, awarded the prize for Overall Best Speaker.

In his remarks, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, said that the competition exceeded expectations, noting that the students evolved in their public speaking skills.

“I want to tell them congratulations, you are all winners. I have seen the growth. Some were timid, they took their little time but by the time they reached the finals, they were tremendous speakers,” he said.

“I think this partnership with SDC has turned out much better than we ever expected,” he added.

Mr. Green, who is also the Member of Parliament for South West St. Elizabeth, said he intends to continue the collaboration “to have a grander second staging.”

For his part, SDC parish manager for St. Elizabeth, Alric Miller, said the competition was important in exposing the students to various topics and issues facing Jamaicans.

Over the course of the competition, which was launched in January, the schools debated topics related to dengue, medical marijuana, substance abuse, sugary drinks, gender-based violence and epidemics.

“By all indication and feedback from some of the students and the teachers, the competition has taught them a lot,” Mr. Miller said.

“I just want to reaffirm the commitment from the SDC to continue with these sorts of partnerships to see how best we can produce and implement programmes that all citizens and particularly students can benefit from,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ebanks from Mountainside Primary told JIS News that the debate contributed to the educational development of the students, who “worked hard to come out on top”.

“They were all enthused about it. They wanted to be victors and they all worked hard, so we did not underestimate any other team. We put in the work and I am so happy we are victorious,” she said.

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