A Ground for Development
Sarah Z H
The English debating community in Bangladesh will tell you how debate is a ground for competition and development, a journey of knowledge and self-empowerment that establishes school children as icons both nationally and internationally. The BDC Pre-Worlds School Debating Championship works on selecting top individuals for the WSDC.Over the years they have been successful in training and selecting many debaters who were regularly participating in WSDCs around the world and Wales 2006 was only a small share of their glory days. As Pre-Worlds approaches, many schools (each different school every year) now arrange for small practice tournaments engaging schools from the same area and some of them even have their official coaches.
Earlier in 1992 and 2001, Bangladesh participated in WSDC tournaments that still make the community proud. In Pre-Worlds, fundamental elements like compulsory oral adjudication, debating several preliminary rounds before entering the knockout stage, judges' evaluation missing at the time - are taught. This skilled bunch later appears in International university tournaments as CA, ACA and even coach of the national team. The national camp is designed to build up skills of debaters and select the top-12 for the month-long training. Each year, a big number of 50 students join the national camp after the Pre-Worlds. The debaters are thoroughly tested as they are made to abandon their comfort zones. Here, former WSDC debaters share their experiences and give lectures in small groups trying to communicate individually with each debater. Team building exercises are carried out and sit-in tests are also taken.
With only 12 debaters remaining, the month long training (4 to 6 weeks) is challenging and tricky. These sessions sort through recent issues working to discover individual strengths and weaknesses in the debaters. University teams are invited in the practice sessions. At the end of the training period, debaters usually end up knowing a lot about each other which helps the team to become a close-knit one. All the hard work unfortunately pays off for only 5. The top 5 then participate as a team in other local tournaments (and internationals like in Thailand and Korea), before they set out for WSDC.
Stories of Success
World Schools' Debating Championship (WSDC) held in February this year in Doha, Qatar had five finalists previously chosen by BDC- Alaka Halder from ESS, Mohd. Labib Rahman and Sumaiya Anjum Kashfi from Manarat International School, Najneen Sultana from AKS, and Mubarrat Wassey from BIT represented the Bangladesh team. The team also had coach, Raihan Rumman, an internationally renowned judge who had adjudicated the semifinals in the Athens WSDC of 2009 and team manager Ishraq Alam Rudro from BDC. All participating countries are ranked according to their past performances, and each country gets at least eight debates, against one nation from each rank followed by16 nations debating in the knockout rounds.
The debaters were lodged at the Doha Marriott living with friends from all over the world. In their first debate, the Bangladesh team was up against Canada which was a tier 1, and were later the champions of the tournament. After a tough debate about whether NATO should intervene in Somalia or not, Bangladesh lost on a 2-1, split decision given by the judges. Later that very day, team Bangladesh had no trouble pasting team Palestine from tier 8 in a 3-0, this time unanimous decision in a debate where the winning argument was “physical education should be compulsory for all students”.
On Day 2, Scotland, former champions of the world was defeated by Bangladesh, 2-1 split decision, in a closely fought debate. Sadly that afternoon team Bangladesh lost to Sudan a team from tier 7. Meanwhile, The Qatar Debate Foundation organized trips to Camel Race Treks, Desert Safaris, and even gave away free tickets to an orchestra.
On Day 3 Bangladesh was up against The Netherlands from tier 3, and they had not lost to anyone apart from their opponents from tier 1 and this time Bangladesh came out victorious. The same afternoon team Bangladesh lost to Sweden and revisited the gloom of the first day.
On Day 4 team Bangladesh performed really well in the tournament thus far, and took down Indonesia 3-0 and Lithuania 3-0 as well. Sumaiya Anjum Kashfi had officially been ranked the 41st best speaker in the world, the best performance by a Bangladeshi ever.
Bangladesh was ranked 18th in the world. Ironically South Korea and Bangladesh are the only two teams in the history of WSDC to have not made it to the knockout rounds in spite of having 5 wins and 16 ballots.
''WSDC was an experience which can only be felt. The multi cultural environment, political differences between nations forgotten, as a bunch of teenagers from different backgrounds came to know about each other and quickly became friends and played pranks on each other, the experience was breathtaking. A big thanks to debating and everyone involved in gifting us with this opportunity'' says Mubarrat Wassey, a participant of WSDC 2010, Doha, Qatar.
NSDC 2010 ,Seoul, South Korea had nine debaters, Sajeed Alam , Azraf Uddin , Tasnuva Ferdous Khan , Zefroon Afsary and myself from the Aga Khan School, Wasifa Noshin from Sunnydale, Wahid Tamzid Khan from Dhanmondi Tutorial, Sanjeed Halim from Maple Leaf, Shaadmaan Ahmed Siddiqui from Mastermind and Tanvir Haroon from Bangladesh Debating Council(BDC) as team coach. Bangladesh was represented by three teams; Team-1 took in Sajeed, Sanjeed and Tasnuva. Team-2 had Wasifa, Zefroon
and Fahad Almer Khan and team-3 had Shadman, Wahid and Azraf. On September 11 the tournament kicked off and four rounds of debate were held on that day.
In the finals team-1 faced Daywong-1. Team-1 lost to Daywong-1 but that wasn't the end. Azraf was ranked 4th, Wahid 3rd and Shaadmaan 2nd as individual speakers. Raihan Rumman was ranked as the best adjudicator. “In spite of the fact it was one of the most expensive cities in the world, we managed to have a lot of fun as we took in the environment. It was a learning experience for me and all the other debaters who went to Korea. The trip might have only lasted 4 days, but the memories of living in a foreign land with friends makes it seem much longer than that”, says Fahad Almer Khan another promising achiever in the world of debate.
(I'd like to thank Mubarrat Wassey and Fahad Almer Khan for sharing their success stories with Star Campus).