The Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition is on a summer break but local debaters are not taking any time off. They welcomed six Shanghai secondary schools to the Shanghai-Hong Kong Debating Competition 2011 last week.
Students took part in three days of competition at Hong Kong Baptist University, where they debated topics including social values, technology and the environment.
A pool of debaters from five local secondary schools was selected to form six teams to compete against the Shanghai schools.
The final was held on Saturday, with Hong Kong Team Six battling Shanghai Cao Yang No. 2 High School. The topic was 'Genetically modified products offer more benefits than drawbacks', with Hong Kong arguing in support of the statement.
Perry Bayer, a native English teacher (NET) from CCC Ming Kei College, Peter Broe, a project officer in the Education Bureau's NET section, and Thomas Liu, principal consultant of B&E Training Consultant Ltd, were the adjudicators. Bayer said the competition was a great opportunity for Hong Kong and Shanghai students to learn from each other.
'Internationalisation presents the future. Students from both sides have their own style and it will be beneficial for both sides to debate against each other,' he said.
Shanghai Cao Yang No. 2 High School won the competition.
Bayer said the Shanghai students spoke calmly and had practised their speeches well. He was also impressed with their references to literature. 'There were a number of quotes from Shakespeare that really impressed me,' said Bayer.
Local students earned praise for giving passionate speeches and for their research. Liu Yuanfei, a Form Two student from Shanghai Cao Yang No. 2 High School, was impressed with the performance of local students. 'They are great speakers. They had very clear presentations and quick responses.'
Like Hong Kong, debating is a popular extra-curricular activity among secondary schools in Shanghai. Liu said: 'Many schools have debating teams and there are various inter-school competitions. The topics that we debated in the past few days were a new experience and challenge for me. Back at home, we debated topics related to philosophy. The topics in this competition were related to life.'
Xue Bai, one of Liu's teammates, said she enjoyed debating in English. 'I do both Chinese and English debating but English is my favourite. I was born and raised on the mainland, but when it comes to debating, I feel that I am able to express myself better in English,' she said.
The competition, which was first held in 2002, takes place every year, alternating between Hong Kong and Shanghai.