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Story Highlights

  • The inaugural South West Primary School Debate Competition, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Social Development Commission (SDC), got under way on Thursday (January 23) at the Black River Parish Library.
  • A total of 12 schools competed in knockout matches in Round 1, with six teams advancing to Round 2, which will be held on January 30 at the same venue.
  • The six institutions are Black River Primary, Black River Preparatory, Parotee Primary, Pondside Primary, Mountainside Primary and Pedro Plains Primary.

The inaugural South West Primary School Debate Competition, organised by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Social Development Commission (SDC), got under way on Thursday (January 23) at the Black River Parish Library.

A total of 12 schools competed in knockout matches in Round 1, with six teams advancing to Round 2, which will be held on January 30 at the same venue.

The six institutions are Black River Primary, Black River Preparatory, Parotee Primary, Pondside Primary, Mountainside Primary and Pedro Plains Primary.

The schools debated topics related to medical marijuana, substance abuse, sugary drinks, gender-based violence and epidemics.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, said that the objective is to help the students in their self-development as well as create a culture for debating.

“We wanted to develop programmes that can help our students with expressions, with reasoning, with dedication, with logics and we found the best thing is debate,” he noted.

“Debate brings forward all of those talents. It gives you the opportunity to speak in front of people and make an argument, to follow the argument from the start to the logical conclusion,” he added.

The Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for South West St. Elizabeth, urged primary schools in the parish and islandwide to form debating clubs.

He said he hopes to see the competition grow in the coming years and lauded SDC for mobilising the teams for the inaugural staging.

“They (SDC) are the boots on the ground to make this possible. I also really want to commend the schools that we have here and the teachers who have decided to take this up,” Mr. Green said.

For his part, SDC parish manager for St. Elizabeth, Alric Miller, said that the competition will help to build the capacity of the students in the areas of public speaking and research as well as heighten their awareness of local issues.

“We anticipate that the competition will be very successful and, importantly, foster some sort of behavioural change based on the things they will be exposed to during the competition,” Mr. Miller said.

The debate competition will conclude on February 13. The first-place team will receive $50,000 and a trophy; second place will receive $35,000 and a trophy; and third place will get $20,000 and a trophy. There will also be prizes for best speaker and coach.

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