ADDIS ABEBA – The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa celebrated the successful conclusion of the first Ethiopia Debates! Competition on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.
Ethiopia Debates! is a nationwide program that creates an interactive platform for university students to engage in a series of debate competitions, during which they learn public speaking skills, constructive dialogue, and debate techniques on a variety of cross-cutting issues.
Debate club members had the opportunity to develop debating skills through workshops and practical debates over the last twelve months, according to the U.S. Embassy.
In a formal debate, one of the main challenges for a debater is defending ideas they might not agree with.
For this competition, 22 topics were proposed by the Center for Community Development (CeFCOD) and shared with the students and coaches prior to their arrival in Addis Ababa.
“While they had some time to research these topics, it was a random drawing for each round, so students did not know their topic and whether they would be arguing for or against the motion until just a few hours before their debate,” it says.
Topics covered a range of local issues, including: should public service be mandatory; is large-scale agriculture the best method to achieve food security; should students be able to choose their own university majors; does humanitarian assistance increase dependence from beneficiaries; should school be taught in local languages or a common language; and should individuals with large followings online be registered media?
The final debate competition took place at Addis Ababa University on August 20-21 and included 28 participants from 14 universities: Addis Ababa; Addis Ababa Science and Technology; Dire Dawa; Haromaya; Jigjiga; Jimma; Gondar; Bahir Dar; Mekelle; Hawassa; Arba Minch; Assosa; Semera; and Gambella.
“Debating is a microcosm of how we engage in a democracy,” Michael Raynor, U.S. Ambassador Michael Raynor, said at the closing ceremony.
“By encouraging young leaders to discuss challenging public policy questions,” he said, “We hope to nurture a new generation of civic-minded citizens and active members of the community who will lead the country where it wants to go.”
The Ethiopia Debates! program supports Ethiopia’s reform efforts towards peaceful nation-building by creating platforms for future leaders of Ethiopia to address public policy issues through debate and dialogue.
The National Debate Club is implemented by the Centre for Community Development (CefCoD), an Ethiopian Resident Charity Organization.