Paynesville SDA Wins Inter-High School Championship Debate

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The Champions, Paynesville SDA team with their trophy.

The Paynesville Seventh Day Adventist High School has defeated J.J. Roberts United Methodist School, ending its long run to win the Liberia National High School Championship Debate at the Centennial Pavilion on Sunday, June 3, 2018.

The exercise was organized by Youth For Change, formerly Divine Event Management and Consultancy.

The debate between the two schools was compelling, but ended 87-85 points in favor of 2016 third place winner SDA, according to a three-judge panel led by Meo D. Beyan, Assistant Minister for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Justice.

For winning the grand finale, SDA walked away with a cash prize of US$2,000, while J.J. Roberts took home US$1,000 for finishing second. Both teams debated on the topic, “Article 54 of the Liberian Constitution Must be Amended to Elect Superintendents for the Purpose of Effective Decentralization of our Governance System.”

On the affirmative side of the argument, the SDA team argued that the current system of governance where the president appoints superintendents, breeds underdevelopment and dictatorship, because the superintendent is not accountable to the people.

“Article 54 as it stands, creates an imperial presidency, in which the president and few elite impose their will on the people for self-interest and this undermines the pillar of democracy.  Democracy is the government for the people and by the people and, if so, the appointment of superintendents by the president is a clear manifestation that such a pillar of democracy is broken in the country.

“If the government is for the people, as prescribed in the constitution, then Liberians should be allowed to elect their own county to foster decentralization, which will end the long years of marginalization of the interior population in the national decision-making process. The time for such a move is now and it by no means undermines the constitution but rather it upholds it because the will of the people is respected,” SDA argued.

But J.J Roberts, which debated on the negative side of the argument, noted that such an amendment could bring about more problems, because of a situation like budgetary constraint and undermines the state’s position as a unitary state.

“We have to be mindful that Liberia is a unitary state and any attempt to make it a federal and unitary state at the same time definitely undermines the framework of the constitution. This is because only superintendents will be elected, not all county officials, which still doesn’t solve the problem of decentralization.

“There is no need for such an amendment because decentralization can better be achieved through the various lawmakers if they are properly carried out in their functions,” J.J Robert said. “However, Liberia is still decentralized because the people through their lawmakers are consulted before national development agenda is implemented. And the process like Open Budget Initiative and the County Service Centers are clear indications that Liberians have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process or the country is being decentralized.”

Also, taking third and fourth place, respectively, Firestone Liberia defeated C.H. Dewey High school 85-74 points on the topic, “Foreigners Seeking to Invest in Liberia must Require Liberian Partnership as a Prerequisite for Investment.”

The Most Eloquent Speaker award was given to Lisa B. Lomax of J.J. Roberts and the Most Valuable Player went to Martin Forkpa of Firestone Liberia.

Additional certificates were awarded to seven of the Most Eloquent Speaker contestants.

This year’s competition featured over 80 schools from seven counties, and was sponsored by Orange Liberia and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

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