ST ANN-based school, Ferncourt High, copped first place, earning them the Sandals Foundation Digicel Foundation Debate Mate Jamaica Cup.
The school also obtained the top place in its region, winning the Ocho Rios Urban Debate Prize. St Andrew Technical High School came in second place, while William Knibb Memorial High and St James High placed third and fourth, respectively.
"I applaud the efforts of this organisation as this has been one of the best interventions I've seen in a long time," noted Claude Rowe, dean of discipline and debate coach at Ferncourt High. "In the 10 weeks of Debate Mate, I've noticed a complete change, improvement not only in the quality of their arguments, but also in their behaviour."
With more than 400 students from 19 secondary schools competing, energies were high as teams battled not only for first place but also for the regional prizes. Spot Valley High in Montego Bay was the Montego Bay Urban Debate winner, while Calabar Primary and Junior High was awarded the Kingston Urban Debate Prize. The competition took place on Monday at Rex Nettleford Hall at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
Kerriane Matt, English teacher at Marcus Garvey High School, noted the benefits of being involved with Debate Mate. "It is a wonderful learning experience that allows students to express themselves freely on current everyday issues. It enhances students' confidence and, most importantly, their critical thinking skills, which will make them prominent members of our society."
"Debate Mate is really fun. It has helped me talk more and fight less. It has also helped me with my English A and B work," noted Fitzroy Hines, student at William Knibb Memorial High School.
Debate Mate Jamaica, the sister organisation of London-based charity Debate Mate, is culminating its pilot programme with a national inter-school debating competition. Founded in 2008 by CEO Margaret McCabe, barrister-at-law, Debate Mate is an educational charity dedicated to improving social mobility.