Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Debate contest broadens minds, says Barrett

Published:Tuesday | April 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM

At the end of the National Collegiate Debating Championships yesterday, the big expectation was that the minds of participants would be broadened enough to allow them to make better informed decisions about their involvement in the democratic process.

The two-day event put on by the Jamaica Association for Debating and Empowerment and the National Integrity Action showcased a number of tertiary institutions and high schools from across the island and was scheduled to end around 6 p.m.

Explaining the significance of the debates, president and CEO of the Jamaica Association for Debating and Empowerment Germaine Barrett said if persons get a better understanding of the topics discussed, they will begin to see the importance of them becoming involved in the democratic process.

"The general objective of the championships is to broaden people's capacity for critical thinking, for holding their governments accountable and appreciating the fact that in a democratic context, people have the right to participate," Barrett said. "Otherwise, democracy doesn't work."


Culture of participation


He added: "We are trying to build this culture of citizen participation in the democracy, and the first stage of this is to have informed citizens who are willing and ready to engage in the dynamism of democracy. Debating is very much a powerful tool. As a debater, you become aware and you become passionate about issues."

The championship took a similar format to that of the British parliamentary system.

Themes debated on included 'income tax versus consumption tax', 'climate change mitigation versus climate change adaptation', and whether violent music should be banned due to the influence it has on gender-based violence.

As it relates to the banning of the music, UWI student Janelle Haye firmly defended her stance that certain types of music must be banned because of direct correlations between music and human behaviour.

Kimberley Brown, who opposed the ban, said: "In essence, a correlation, even if direct, does not show causation. In addition, most violent lyrics are not even targeting women or children. Most violent lyrics are generally directed towards other men."