Talking heads

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am

Tomorrow, nine students from South Island School (SIS) will participate in the First Asian Schools Debate Championship in Manila.

The championship is the first notable gathering of Asia's high school debaters and public speakers. Teams from countries across the region, including Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh and South Korea, are taking part.

The event is organised by the De La Salle Debate Society, which hosted the National Asians High School Debate Championships, a tournament that showcases the brightest high school debate teams in the Philippines.

SIS is considered one of the top schools in debating in Hong Kong, having won the Hong Kong Bar Association Debating Competition for the past two years. The school is also a two-time champion in the Sing Tao Inter-School Debating Competition.

SIS debating coach Mary Garland says after taking part in debating competitions in Hong Kong, the team is looking forward to the international competition.

'The standard of the championship in Manila is going to be really high,' she says. 'The opponents have different styles and our team needs to cope with that ... to do well.'

Garland says the topics of the debates will only be made known to debaters 30 minutes before they speak.

'All we know now is the topics will be about world affairs so students have to familiarise themselves with current global affairs and general knowledge.'

She adds that Singapore Malaysia and Pakistan are countries with long English debating traditions.

'I think our students will be able to learn a lot from them,' she says.

Prakash Sanker, a Year 13 student on the SIS debating team, says he is looking forward to interacting with debaters from other countries.

'I can't wait to meet people from around the world with different cultures, he says.

Prakash adds he expects to come up against stiff competition in Manila and has no idea how his team will do.

'Our members are very active debaters and we have been hard at work preparing for it,' he says.

When asked what he likes so much about debating, Prakash says: 'I like coming up with arguments on the spot and thinking and working as a team.'

He says he has been debating since he was 13 and it has made him a more confident person.

'I also make use of the things I learn from [researching debate topics] in my school work.'

Year 11 team member Katriana Milne says: 'It will be a whole new experience for me to hear the views of other debaters on world issues.'

She admits only having 30 minutes to prepare for the debate will be 'tough', but says the team has a plan to cope with it.

'After we get the topic, the first five minutes is for every individual to brainstorm ideas. Then we get together to make our case,' she says.

Year 10 student Ivan Siu Chi-hin says his strengths lie in setting up the case and giving organised presentations.

'I've been reading online newspapers to gain more general knowledge and practising with my teammates,' he says.

The championship is a precursor to the World Schools Debating Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar in February next year.

With the experience they will gain at the Asian Championships, SIS students are hoping to earn spots on the Hong Kong team.

For more information about the Asian Schools Debate Championship please check out www.asdc