British Council brings popular school debate to India

August 4th, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) Indian high school students will get an opportunity to show off their way with words and logic in UK early next year. The British Council is bringing “Debating Matters”, a popular national debating competition from the Institute of Ideas, Britain, exclusively for school students in India, a press communiqué issues by the British Council said.

Several schools across the country will register for an online debating module in September when the council sends out invitation seeking applications from schools. The aspiring contestants will have to clear the question rounds - a tough grilling session on an issue that affects their everyday life or have the potential to do so in near future.

Six schools will be short-listed from the preliminary round. They will be given two months to prepare on a topic and then quizzed by a panel of experts. Those with the highest scores will go to UK to take part in the real-time contest.

“Debating Matters” is the brainchild of the Institute of Ideas, Britain - a national debating competition for high school students in Britain on popular issues.

“The show which we are bringing here is the Indian version of ‘Debating Matters’. We are in the process of developing a national debating competition on the lines of the ‘Debating Matters’ because very few national level contests for school children in the country have an intellectual element.

“Last year, we partnered the Airtel Scholar Hunt to send students to UK,” Anjoo Mohun of the British Council told IANS. The programme, Mohun said, would target Class XI students. “We do not want to disturb Class X and Class XII students,” she said.

The contest will gradually be developed into a real-time television reality show.

The British Council will organise a brainstorming session August 4-5 in New Delhi to orient students about the nature of the contest.

Schools like the Gurgaon-based Salwan Public School, Springdales (Dhaula Kuan), Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi Public School (Noida) and Modern High School (Barakhamba Road) have confirmed their participation. The schools from Kolkata include La Martiniere for Boys and Modern High for Girls.

The British Council plans to use its network of schools and education institutions across the four Indian metros and seven major cities to push the contest through.

The council will begin the contest with a detailed preparatory roster. It will offer ‘On the spot’ seminars to coach students who are not familiar with debating and are nervous to take part in competitions. A module, ‘Friendly Fixtures’, will allow new schools to test the waters by organising inter-school friendly competitions.

The council will also organise a debating ‘master class’ and a multi-media debate resource lab will provide resource and information to those directly involved in the competition and serve as a networking centre for “Debating Matters” participants.

Tony Gilland, the science and society director, Institute of Ideas (IOI), UK and Helen Birtwistle, press officer for the Institute of Ideas & Pfizer’s Debating Matters Competition, will anchor the contest.

“Debating Matters” in UK has involved 160 schools and played host to some 100 debating events with more 2,000 pupils in over 300 individual school debates.

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