The Liberia National Debate Championship (LNDC), which is the country’s premier academic competition, will kick-off today with 14 school teams from the 15 counties vying for the title.
The debate central tournament organized by Youth for Change (YoC), comes a month after the end of the preliminary qualification round in each of the 15 counties. YoC, formerly Devine Event and Consultancy, is an education-oriented organization that has been organizing the LNDC since 2015.
According to YoC Executive Director Alex Devine, each county is represented at the central tournament by one school with the exception of Montserrado County, which has two schools.
Unfortunately, according to Mr. Devine, River Cess and River Gee counties representatives have withdrawn from the debate competition, due to bad road conditions and the lack of funds to transport their debate teams to Monrovia.
“The absence of the two counties from the tournament is something out of our control, because we tried our best to have schools from both counties in Monrovia, but things did not work out their way,” he said. “And because of this, 13 counties are left in the competition instead of 15 as was anticipated.”
Mr. Devine added that during the course of the month-long tournament, each county debate team will have four debate matches in the knock-out stage, and at the end, eight counties with the highest score will qualify for the quarter-finals. Subsequently, the remaining four will play in the semi-finals and the last two to the finals.
“To avoid issues of cheating, we have decided to have all the knock-out games play simultaneously as a precautionary measure. For this year’s central tournament, we have a record of 150 students coming from the 15 counties to debate on issues of national interest,” Mr. Devine added.
Since the debate competition was launched four years ago, the LNDC has brought to prominence young intellectuals like Nathan Gbee, child rights advocate Satta Sheriff, Olivia Precious Livingstone, John Singbae, emerging poet Beulah Nimene and many more.
In 2017, YoC participated in the Orate Africa Trust Debate Championship, which saw Liberia coming third place and emerging as the best team from West Africa.
The Orate Debate is one of the continent’s most prestigious debate competitions that seek to enhance the communication ability of young African speakers and expose them to analytical and critical thinking.
A year later in Croatia at the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC), Liberia managed to reach the eighth stage of the tournament, one of the highest stages of the exercise.
WSDC, which is an annual English-language debating tournament for high school-level teams, has in recent years involved teams from over 50 nations.
Sarah Buchanan, Director of Social Corporate Responsibility at Orange Liberia, LNDC primary sponsor, pledged her institution’s support to the debate and its organizer. She said Orange remains commitment to LNDC since it is a platform that offers students an opportunity to become intellectuals who discuss issues with logical and persuasive arguments.
“Today and tomorrow, we will be with you people. We remain committed to this initiative because over the years you have grown and nurtured lots of young intellectuals who all are making an impact in the society right now.
“At Orange, we care a lot about education; therefore, we see this initiative as a one that can help improve the education system in the country,” Madam Buchanan said.