Let’s Get Heard! Debate Tournament 2018-19  28/05/2019
 Let’s Get Heard! Debate Tournament 2018-19

It all started with a chat, hosting an activity to engage young people in active participation. After a brainstorming session, the Youth Worker at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ MCAST Youth Hub and a couple of the Student Mentors of the Foundation College at MCAST came up with the idea of organising a debate tournament.

So, why a debate tournament?

The main aim of this pilot project was to provide young people with both life and soft skills that would help them throughout theirpath of life and academic journey within MCAST. The objective was to enable young people to develop certain skills such as presentation techniques, communication skills, time-management, research skills, leadership skills, public speaking, organisational skills, and most importantly, the ability to work within a team. Once the aim of the objectives were established, the team organising this project sought to create a poster to promote the tournament and encourage Level 3 students to participate from every Institute within MCAST.

According to the tournament’s rules and regulations (formulated by the Youth Worker and the Student Mentors) the young people had to apply in groups of 3. Overall, a total of 27 young people applied. After the application process, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ provided a training session about debating techniques for the young people, while the Student Mentors provided training to the tournament judges. The tournament organisers voted for a number of topics for the tournament which, amongst others included Community work should be given instead of a prison sentence‘School examinations should be removed, ‘People caught in possession of drugs should be Imprisoned, Paceville should be discontinued, and the car race track in Malta should be Constructed.

Several challenges that the organisers encountered were finding common dates for each debate due to the students’ different timetables, encouraging young people to take part in the tournament, their lack of commitment after agreeing to participate, the College’s full academic calendar, and the young people’s lack of communication within their debate groups. Throughout the debates which were held at the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ MCAST Youth Hub, the organisers could see that a number of the objectives were met. For instance, young people who were not confident in speaking publicly, broke out of their comfort zone by speaking in front of their peers.

After the first round of debates four teams, 3.1C Knights, JDS Ltd, Triplets, and Xarabank United, qualified for the semi-finals. A week later the last two teams, 3.1C Knights and JDS Ltd, met for the final debate. Domestic violence is always carried out by men was the final topic voted for by the organisers. This final debate took place on Thursday 23rd May at the MCAST Students’ House.

Present for this occasion were, Dr. Tatjana Chircop (MCAST Deputy Principal Arts and Social Sciences – VPET), Mr. Jason Zammit (Manager at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ), Ms.Isabelle Mallia (Senior Youth Worker at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ), the Student Mentors team, and last but not least, the young people who participated in the tournament and their school friends.

The winning team JDS Ltd were presented with a trophy, a €240 voucher and a certificate of participation. The runners-up were given a cash voucher of €100 together with a certificate of participation, while all the rest of the young people were presented with a certificate of participation. The trophy and prizes were sponsored by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.

Following a satisfactory first debate tournament, the organisers believe that this project can be included in the calendar of events at MCAST in the years to come.