Liberia National Debate Championship 2019

 CHRONICLE OF LIBERIA NATIONAL DEBATE CHAMPIONSHIP (LNDC)

An idea that started with just 20 high schools in the year 2015 in Montserrado was extended to 80 High schools the following year, the sweeping effect of the project (LNDC) motivated us to cover 120 High schools the next year (2017) in Montserrado County.  

In 2018 we intended to include schools from the 15 counties to participate, but we could not, due to financial constraints. We were however successful in getting to 7 of the 15 counties, namely: Grand cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Bong, and Nimba county.

Having seen the debate nascent achievement, that is, the production of responsible young people, many of whom became Executive Directors of their own little non-for-profits, some became presidents of their various universities here in Liberia and abroad, still others became Role Models to an array of young people in the country.

The national spoils of the debate grew like a wild fire so much so that we were invited to two global competitions, namely: the African Debate Championship hosted in South Africa in 2017 termed as “ Orate Africa Debate Championship” organized by Orate Africa Trust based in Botswana, and  the World School Debate Championship (WSDC) hosted in Croatia in 2018 respectively. Youth For Change representing Liberia for the first time in a global debate championship that has existed for the past 4 and 30 years without Liberia’s participation. In the Africa Debate Championship, of the 14 African counties that participated, Liberia ranked 3rd and was named as “The Most outstanding Team and Best Delegation from West Africa”. At the World Debate Championship termed as “WSDC”, the competition hosted about 64 different countries to include America, India, England, China, Germany, South Africa, and the like, which are deemed fit to participate base on their performance locally; Please visit www.youthforchangeinc.org or follow us on facebook @Youth For Change INC for our imprints on these claims. Liberia participating for the first time in the World School Debate Championship hosted in Croatia, team Liberia under the supervision of Youth For Change INC in this championship defeated many countries leaving from the first stage of the competition up to the 8th stage in a competition that had 10 stages only. At the Grand final, Liberia was graded as having the “Best Debate Style” of all the countries that participated. This remarkable achievement moved us to decentralize this model of debate across the fifteen political subdivisions of Liberia. This year (2019) edition of our National Debate Championship (LNDC), we successfully reached the fifteen counties! Thanks to our Official Sponsor, Orange Liberia, the Ministry of Education for endorsing this program as a National initiative, and to all other supporters!   

After the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the intricacies and the spoils of the Liberia National Debate Championship 2019 edition (LNDC), we are honored to present to you our esteemed audience and supporters, our experience with the (LNDC) 2019 edition.

 We commenced the Nationwide Liberia National Debate Championship (LNDC) with a tour to the fifteen counties that resulted to the training of 118 high schools from the fifteen counties in Liberia, along with County Education Officers (CEOs) and District Education Officers (DEOs), Principals and County Coordinators, preparing participating schools for participation in the championship.

Upon the return of the national debate training committee headed by the National Debate Supervisor Mr. Nehwon Saye Suah, they informed authorities of Youth For change INC, the organization in charge of this educative program (LNDC), that many participants of the training in the remote parts of the country could not tell the difference between debate (a deliberative intellectual discourse) and quizzing. This marked lack of experience led to thorough repetition of training in other to get participants conversant with the concept and natty gritty of debate. Nevertheless the training was conducted across the fifteen counties successfully.   

After training had been conducted, we then proceeded to conduct the official launch of the championship which was healed in Nimba County, where we had the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia H.E Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor serving as the Chief Launcher. Over 1000 students participated in the launch with parade in the principle streets of Gompa City, the Honorable Deputy Minister for Instruction Hon. Alexander Duopu Joined us in the parade. Prominent among our delegates who graced the launch were the: Ministry of Education, County Superintendents from the fifteen counties, our prime and proud Sponsor Orange Liberia, the Swedish Embassy, County Education Officers from the fifteen counties, and other prominent citizens.

 During the launch, members of the current Liberia National Debate Team that represents Liberia in global competitions through the mentorship of Youth For Change, had an exhibition match, showcasing the contemporary style of debate (World School Debate Style) that is being used at the World School Debate Championship in contemporary Global Competitions and was being introduced in Liberia for the first time by Youth for Change, thus replacing old fashion Karpopper Debate format with a world best contemporary standard of debate in Liberia. There were a deluge of motivational messages by the Vice President and other delegates that graced the occasion including the Swedish Embassy and county representatives. Students from participating schools were inspired to cheer and support their individual counties to victory.   

After the completion of the launch, our junior adjudicators having gone through thorough training and certification were then dispatched to the fifteen counties for the purpose of adjudicating the preliminary matches across the counties simultaneously; junior adjudicators were made to understand that coaches and students did not assimilate properly the training already conducted by the training committee. Consequently, our junior adjudicators did another training prior to adjudicating games. Those preliminary inter-high school debate matches were conducted to ascertain the schools that are best suited to represent their county at the central tournament. Among all of the high schools in a county, the school that won all other school at the county level became qualified to represent that county at the central tournament which is called the National Debate County Meet (NDCM). The preliminary matches were held and 15 schools qualified to represent their county at the county meet. 

To participate in the county meet, county teams were to transport themselves from their counties to Monrovia where the county meet was being held, but some schools that won the preliminary could not get the needed support (Transportation) from their county authorities and this lack of county support led to two counties dropping out of the championship, namely: Rivercess County and Rivergee County respectively.

After the conduct of the preliminary matches, Youth For Change then meet with the Ministry of Youth & Sports for securing of the facility that ought to be used for conducting the central tournament (National Debate County Meet). The Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) in Gardnesville was secured through the support of the Ministry of Youth & Sports; we were thus set to receive the different schools representing their various counties at the Monrovia Vocational Training Center. Excluding the two counties that did not make it to Monrovia (Rivercess and Rivergee county), 

We received (13) counties comprising of (6) students (1) county coordinator and a debate coach per county. Also at the Monrovia Vocational Training Center were over 30 trained junior adjudicators, volunteers, and staff totaling to 225 persons at the camp. After reception of our delegates from the thirteen counties, we then conducted the official launch of the central tournament termed as (cultural exhibition Night)

and this launch was grace by the Minister Of Youth & sports Hon. D. Zeogar Wilson, Mrs. Teresa Cummings, wife of the head of the Cummings Foundation Africa Mr. Alexander Cummings, the office of the Vice President of Liberia H.E Chief Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor was represented by Madam Ciatta H. Clarke and other prominent citizens. During this program, students were made to display unique aspects of their culture and county, thus creating tolerance for cultural diversity among our students, a practice that is far-fetched in present-day Liberia    

We the staff, volunteers, and participants of the debate competition lived in the Monrovia Vocational Training Center for one month, eat three times a day, had morning and night prayers, conducted sporting activities with the students and coaches and conducted the debate games in a fully air-conditioned auditorium at night. During the central tournament, we had 13 counties playing at the preliminary stage of the competition. This stage of the championship allowed each county to play four games, the more games a county won qualified them to progress to the next stage or drop out of the tournament. After each county had exhaust their 4 games, they then wait to hear from the score tabulation team to ascertain if they are qualified to progress to the next stage of the championship or not, this determination is done during a program called the Break-up party (BUP)”, this is the time when counties that progressed are announced and those that drop are made to know as well. 

During the break-up party, the following counties were announced as being the counties that crossed to the quarter finals, namely: Maryland, Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Lofa, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, and Bong County. After the quarter finals stage of the debate, Grand Gedeh and Montserrado Counties became qualified for the Grand Final. This auspicious part of the championship was hosted at the Executive Pavilion on the 23 of June 2019. The program was graced by many prominent citizens; prominent among them was 2011 Nobel Laureate Leyma R. Gbowee, USAID Director for Education Madam Malcom Phelps, Ministry of Education, office of the Vice President, Head Of WEAC Mt. Dale Gbotoe and CEO of Pro-design. After a cross section of intense breathtaking debate on the motion that states “DEMOCRACY IS A LUXERY THAT LIBERIA CANNOT AFORD NOW”, The grand final was won by Grand Gedeh County represented by Bishop Juwely High School, thus receiving a cash price of  $ 2000 USD and second place winner Montserrado County represented by Paynesville Seventh Day Adventist leaving with a cash price of $ 1000 USD. The third place winner, Lofa County represented by Foya Central High School, walked away with a cash price of $750 USD. 

We also had a segment of the championship that evaluates each student participating in the championship to determine if they qualified to be categorizing as: Eloquent speaker-MES & Most Valuable Player-MVP. After the categorization, we then allow our audience through social-media participation, their radio appearances and base on personal performance by the students on stage to tell if any was qualified to be the Most Eloquent Speaker & MVP of the year. After our facebook and radio audience evaluation which determined 10%  20% & percent respectively of the grading and the “Evaluation Committee” assessment on individual performance which determined 70% percent of the grading, and the rating of the candidates based on radio appearances which determined 20% percent of the grading had been  done, a female candidate won the post of the Most Eloquent speaker in person of student Williett Mars from Montserrado County and another female student Named Maima Brooks won as most valuable player (MVP) from Maryland County. Other counties that did not win any price were given certificate of participation.

At the climax of the program, our proud sponsor Orange Liberia represented by Madame Sarah Buchanan, Head of Orange Liberia CSR program blew our minds after been very impressive by the students excellent intellectual displayed, announced an additional sponsorship package termed as “Orange Liberia Construction of a Modern Digital Room” to have install: 50 pieces of tablets each, 50 pieces of Ipad, Solar powers, Servers, and Projectors! A project that impacted two schools within two counties; Montserrado and Grand Gedeh counties respectively, these two counties have benefited from a project they never dream of that worth approximately between 10,000 to 15,000 USD each! A move that stun the entire congregation at the debate! 

Our motivational speaker, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah R. Gbowee promised 10,000 USD unrestricted fund to Youth For Change to bolster her programs.  According to Madam Gbowee, the fund is to be given in two installments within two years period, 5000 USD per year. At the same time, the Nobel Laureate also presented an amount of $ 250usd to a student who was awarded a title that night amongst the 225 students termed as “The Most Serviceable students”.  Besides presenting Him this amount, she offered him an internship with the foundation and to the MVP, Maima Brooks, four years full scholarship, 

In her concluding remarks, she then told the students “You don’t need money to plan, but you need plan to make money”. A very powerful line in her remarks that resonated with the students to have resilience as they strive for a better future. 

We now want to thank all of our sponsors especially Orange Liberia who has been with us (Youth For Change) since the inception of the debate in 2015, KM TV, ELBC, Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Ministry Of Education, Ministry Of Youth & Sports, Internal Affairs Ministry, Gender and Social Protection, SAMBA Juice, YMCA Liberia, and all well wishers and the general public including our local and international followers on facebook for sticking with us. We are proud to be the face of Youth development in Liberia! 

Certainly LNDC is a platform that discovers, natures, avails and launches potential leaders into the future.