The fate of 12 young Liberian debaters who are expected to participate in this year’s Orate Africa Trust Debate competition, which is scheduled for the end of the year, is uncertain.
The Orate Africa Trust Debate is one of the continent’s most prestigious debate competitions that seeks to enhance the communication ability of young African speakers and expose them to analytical and critical thinking.
The Liberian team, selected after an open vetting process, is expected to be in South Africa on December 8, but has not been able to raise a single dollar of the US$39,198 needed for transportation, visas, accommodation and feeding for one week.
As a result, Alex Devine, the founder of Youth for Change – formally Devine Event Management and Consultancy, and organizer of the Liberia National Debate competition, is now calling on education stakeholders, including local and international non-government organizations and the government of Liberia, to help raise the funds enable for the Liberian team to participate in the competition.
“Since this invitation came to us, we are trying, but finding it difficult to raise the funds. However, we cannot afford not to attend this unique and prestigious competition and therefore we are appealing to every Liberian to help.
“This is an opportunity for us to prove to Africa that our students are on par with their peers when it comes to critical thinking and intellectual skills. But our hope of attending this competition is in doubt. We have been practicing every day and doing more to win the competition,” Devine said.
The Liberia delegation includes Beulah Nimene, presenter; Jamaima Tweh, buttress; and John Singbae, concluder, for the first team.
The members of the second team are Nusone E. Prekins, Youbin Wilsitoe, and Nathan N. Gbelee. The third team’s members are Diamond Smith, Ross Shasha, and Fadella Ann Shaibani, while S. Morris Massalay, Precious M. Wahpoe, and Olivia Precious Livingstone make up the fourth team.
As the country goes to the polls, education remains one of the top planks on the platforms of incumbent and aspiring politicians and parties. Supporting our students to attend this all important debate competition would be a sure way for our next corps of leaders, and the general public and local and international organizations and partner agencies, to show that they are in support of education in Liberia.
“We cannot risk letting these children down and the others who intend to follow by not participating in this debate competition. This is a big opportunity to boost the spirit of intellectualism and critical thinking skills among Liberian students, which we started three years ago through the national debate competition that has now attracted thousands of students,” Alex Devine stated.