7th BDC Pre-Worlds 2010
Someone in the great auditorium was carrying a bag in his shoulder which promptly attracted my attention. It said “Debaters today, leaders tomorrow”. Here we have no less than one hundred and eighty young debaters discussing issues that greatly affect our lives, trying to solve the most endearing problems with intelligence and integrity. Debate truly creates leaders for tomorrow.
The 7th BDC Pre-Worlds was the largest school level English debate tournament in Bangladesh yet. A different school hosts the tournament each year. This year's host was Manarat Int'l College. The BDC (Bangladesh Debating Council) Pre-Worlds started as a mean to select and train young debaters from Bangladesh to enable them to represent Bangladesh in the World Schools Debating Championship. Although it started in 2005 as a tournament with just 8 teams, over the years it achieved great momentum and popularity amongst school level debaters as the de facto platform for debating and learning about debating. It was a visionary plan of Mr. Rashedul Hasan Stalin, the Ex Chair of BDC to promote English debating amongst school going children and enable them to debate at world level. The little candle that he lit 5 years back is burning brighter than ever before.
The tournament was held on the 28, 30 and 31st of July 2010. The usual format of the tournament is that for the first two days the 60 teams debate against each other according to the principle of power matching (teams with equal wins face each other in subsequent rounds). This kind of round robin ensures that all the teams get at least 6 debates and progressively get to learn the art of debating from various adjudicators. An electronic computer based tabulation programme, called iTab, ran the entire tournament. The idea of using electronic tab is a relatively newer concept in our country and one which BDC always promotes to be used in every tournament if possible. What this electronic tab does, in short, is it allocates debates and judges in accordance to certain rules, which were put down by international debating organisations such as Asian Debating Council. This year, for the first time, a network of computers was used to increase the efficiency of the process. This helped to run the tournament in a smooth fashion.
In order to ensure the smooth running of the tournament, BDC appoints an adjudication core consisting of the Chief Adjudicator (CA) and four Deputies (DCA). It is the duty of these 5 individuals to ensure that the debaters get the maximum quality of adjudication and that the tournament is run without any prejudice or problem. This year the BDC appointed CA was Rishad Sharif, ex-debater of IUT who has represented Bangladesh in the international debating arena and is the highest point achiever at World Universities Debating Championship yet from Bangladesh. The DCA's were no less talented with well known names in the English debating arena such as Ipshit Tarafdar from IUB, Nayeem Kashem from NSU, Wahidul Bari from NSU and Tanvir Hafiz from Stamford University helping the CA to officiate in the tournament.
The Pre-Worlds being the largest gathering of debaters in Bangladesh, is not just about debate as one might perceive. It is also a huge social gathering of friends. Plenty of good food and drinks galore and in the rest time one may catch the budding debaters relieve themselves with games of OC (Organising Committee) or sharing jokes amongst themselves. It is customary in the Pre-Worlds event to organize 2 social events, the 'break night' and the Championship dinner, both of which involve a food fiesta! The break night is the name of the second day program, after six rounds of debate when the debaters eagerly wait to find out whether they have qualified (broken) or not to the knockout stages. Every year the hosts try to organize something different in the break night event. This year Manarat organised a comedy night where stand-up comedians from Naveed's Comedy Club came to lighten out the crowd with laughter. Later a fun sweepstakes game was held with a portable hard disc as the prize. Tanduri Chicken with Naan complemented the lighted up session.
Talking about organizing, the host school proved themselves exceptionally up to the task. Lead up front by the convener Abu Yousuf Md. Abdullah, student of class XII in Manarat and past champion from Manarat Association of Debaters (MAD), the tournament went smoothly almost without any glitch. Hosting a 60-team debate tournament is no easy task. And given that the Manarat army of volunteers is mostly students of classes 7 and 8, Yousuf marshaled his team well. Starting from registration, providing goody bags to helping adjudicators and supporting the adjudication core with the necessary logistics, team Manarat was up to speed in every task. From time to time we were greeted by the ever smiling cheerful Principal of Manarat Int. College Col (Rtd) Ashrafuddin, who used to take time from his busy schedule to come and enquire us about the how the tournament was running. Star Campus, the leading student magazine of the country played the role of media partner for the event. The story is Pre-Worlds is not over without mentioning the winners. This year's champion team was Aga Khan School (AKS) who trumped Mastermind in the final. Aside from that, Wasifa Nowshin of Sunnydale was adjudged the best debater of the tournament based on the scores from the first 6 rounds.
The tournament ended on a high note. The winners depart, but the legacy of the tournament will live on. There will be facebook discussions and photo sharing. Tournament will be further complimented by the national camps where the top debaters from the tournament will go on for further learning and development. It is not easy life for a future leader of Bangladesh, but for now he or she may form a vision of future and who knows, someday, we will find the leader in them.
Importance of Speech Communication
Oral communication has long been our main method for communicating with one another. It is estimated that 75 percent of a person's day is spent communicating in some way. As a nation we are very poor in oral communication. We cannot communicate in English which is understandable as English is not our mother tongue. But the question is how come we cannot speak Bangla properly. Things become even worse if we were asked a question in Bangla and are not able to respond properly in that language. This is true for academicians, media personalities, or any other professions. Maybe, I should not have generalized the statement. Yes, admittedly there are people both in academics and media who can speak excellent Bangla. When we hear them one can realize how soft, sweet, and elegant Bangla language is. When we view the Indian Bangla Channels from here it makes us realize how poorly we speak our national language. Watching the Indian Bangla Channels give us the feeling that people in West Bengal are not only good in monologue but also excellent in dialogue as well. This is the area I think we need to concentrate as a nation.
In West from early childhood students learn the technique of speech communication. Students from their elementary to tertiary education must take speech communication as a subject. Speech communication is a field of study inviting students to engage in the theoretically-informed practice of communication in their personal, professional, and public lives. Students who succeed in Speech communication can expect to meet the following goals: increased confidence and competence in public presentations, the ability to engage in effective and productive relational communication, and knowledge of the crucial role communication plays in community, professional and civic contexts, and the ability to use communication behaviors ethically and effectively in various contexts.
My discussion will mainly focus on the tertiary education level. I strongly believe both public and private universities should introduce a course called speech communication for students and it should be a mandatory course. Under this course students will be taught how to communicate both in Bangla and English. People may argue since there are presentations in different courses therefore, an extra course for speech communication is not required.
In reality course like speech communication goes must deeper to teach a student how to become a well conversed person. The entire course is devoted to that. Whereas, presentations in a course is just one part out of many in that course; with the chapters and assignments there would a presentation to supplement that. Course like speech communication will focus on oral communication, non-verbal communication, and public speaking skills. For students who are graduating for the market from the tertiary education we do not prepare them completely for the market. Generally there are gaps between practical filed and theoretical field. One of the gaps that a graduate faces is the communication phase. In the university level we can narrow this gap.
Introducing speech communication would help our students to develop their public speaking skills. We may think public speaking is just a one time affair hence why care about public speaking? After all, once you give the speech it's over and it will be at least another year until you need to speak again, right? Wrong. After all, a person is only as effective as his communication.
Not only do we spend considerable time communicating, but communication skills are also essential for personal, academic, and professional success. Oral communication skills are identified as valuable for both obtaining employment and successful job performance. Most employers recognize that when they are recruiting new college graduates, they are seeking basic sets of skills that often transcend specific context areas. They feel that they can train a specific content. What people know is less important than who they are. Hiring, they believe, is not about finding people with the right experience. It's about finding people with the right mindset. To have a right mindset communication skill is a must. To express our mind we need to be able to communicate. People cannot read our mind; people can only hear what we speak.
(Writer is Professor & Director, School of Business, Independent University, Bangladesh)