The stiff competition brewing at Devin Events and Consultancy’s inter-high school debate soared to new heights on Friday, when all-girls St. Theresa’s Convent defeated the boys from Calvary Baptist High School by 88-86 points, to qualify for the quarter finals stage.
The audience watched in high suspense as the teams – both at their best – raised the stakes for the competition, debating for and against the maintenance of Liberia’s dual currency system.
Impressed with the high marks on both sides, head judge Varfee Holmes described the match as “competitive” and lauded the teams for their talent and “intellectual skills.” Yet, he advised both teams to hone their research skills, and thereby increase their accuracy in presenting information at future debates.
Speaking for the corps of judges, he expressed delight at the maturity both teams displayed during the match, commending their “ability to avoid attacking personality and sticking to the issue.”
Responding to the judges’ marks, Calvary Baptist Representative George Mandeh, expressed satisfaction with his school’s performance, noting that it was merely a two-point loss, and an opportunity to learn from his team’s mistakes and lead in the next competition.
“I believe in the judges,” he said, “as the game was free, fair, and one of the finest matches ever played.”
Earlier, Convent Captain Olivia Livingstone presented the winning argument, stating “dual currency establishes a firm basis for a prudent financial sector, which provides financial integration with developed nations, creating the market for more efficiency and quality of services.”
Still with the argument, she remarked that the issue with dual currency signals [the government’s] permanent commitment to curb [inflation], fiscal responsibility and transparency.
Liberia, she said, has enjoyed low inflation, growth in fiscal responsibility and transparency, because of the dual currency policy, adding that, in the situation of chronic inflation, individuals use the US Dollar to protect the real value of their income.
“If Liberia had not maintained her policy on dual currency,” she explained, “[the country] would not have been able to pay some of [its] massive international debt; [or finance] the restoration of infrastructure development.’’
Presenting the opposing view, Calvary Captain Bill Ivan Gbafore countered that dual currency exhibits “complete disrespect [for] the nation and violation [of] the act that created the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).”
The policy of dual currency, he explained, is hurting the Liberian people and the economy with devastating near- and long-term consequences.
Citing seen data released by the CBL, Gbafore argued that the government has failed to maintain price stability in the face of the escalating depreciation of the Liberian Dollar against the US Dollar; a bad condition that has inflicted hardship on [Liberian] citizens.
He also cited a statement purportedly made in 2013 by of Finance and Development Planning Minster Amara M. Konneh, publicly admitting that “many Liberians are suffering because the exchange rate has sky-rocketed, leaving the country in a state of financial dilemma.”
“The persistent depreciation of the Liberia dollar in the market, he observed, is hurting all Liberians, especially the poor and downtrodden, who have to pay for everything in the local currency.”
Alex Devin, CEO of Devin Events and Consultancy, said the debate enables the public to cross-examine schools’ extra academic performance, as well as their regular curricula. It also affords students the chance, he said, to apply their critical thinking skills toward understanding and solving society’s complex problems.
Such experiences, according to Devin, make a huge impact on each student’s academic life.
The Convent-Calvary match marked the start of the tournament’s knockout stage. The winner of the debate is expected to walk away with US$1000, while the runner-up will take home US$750, and the third place winner, US$500. Apart, from awarding cash prizes and trophies, certificates will be given in several other categories to schools that participated.