Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Western Tertiary Debates launched

Published:Sunday | February 17, 2019 | 12:14 AM

On Tuesday, February 12, The Western Tertiary Debates Competition was launched at the Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St James.

“It is an intellectual contest where students enrolled in tertiary institutions in western Jamaica challenge each other in a demonstration of higher-order thinking skills as they negotiate social issues that are uniquely impacting Jamaica’s western parishes. The competition is the only one of its kind,” Norty Antoine, chairman of the planning committee, told Arts and Education.

It is the second year that the competition is up and running, and it will take a different format from last year’s when only one person won the competition in what Antoine referred to as a balloon format, in which debaters responded to the moot, ‘Be it resolved, Montego Bay is still the Friendly City’.

The eventual winner was University of the West Indies Western Jamaica Campus’ Tajay Platt , who got a cash award, and a trophy, which was presented to him on Tuesday by Lloyd B. Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief at The Western Mirror, one of the main sponsors of the competition.

“As we move into the second instalment of this competition, we are aiming to have more tertiary institutions from the west on show. As a result of that, the organisers have decided to forego the balloon debate format and allow the traditional parliamentary-style debates, where each institution will be represented by a team comprising three students,” Antoine said.

Elimination format

This year, the competition will follow an elimination format. This means that the winning teams from the elimination rounds will advance through to the semi-final matches. The top two teams will then vie for the title of 2019 Western Tertiary Debates Champion, a trophy, cash prizes, and ultimately, bragging rights.

The elimination matches will take place on February 28 when UWI Western Jamaica Campus proposes that ‘Jamaican males are socialised to be criminals’, against Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College. Caribbean Maritime University will oppose Western Hospitality Institute’s moot that ‘the ban on plastic is a Band-Aid’.


Montego Bay Community College and the University of Technology Jamaica will argue over whether ‘the benefits of alternative medicine are overrated.’ The finals will be on March 28. All matches will be held at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre at 10 a.m.

In addressing the gathering, Dr Lorna Gow-Morrison, principal of Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, where the idea for the debate was born, said, among other things, “We are here because we have talent, skills, and knowledge that will result in us showcasing critical thinking, respect for diversity, or research skills, or just contributing to self-development and nation-building in ways that will transform not only the west, but the world.”

Lloyd B. Smith, in his sponsor’s remarks, told the audience that the idea for the debates was a “fantastic” one and said that he was happy “that young minds like yours are stimulated in this way”. He said he had always felt that “Montego Bay lacks an intellectual base”, an “ethos which helps us to think critically and to look at issues in a dispassionate way”, and so he congratulated “the team headed by Mr Antoine” for coming up with the idea.

Also addressing the gathering were Norman Reid, Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College’s board chairman, and attorney-at-law Jeanne Robinson-Foster, a board member.