Originally a British High schools debate competition, Debating Matters has proved extremely popular amongst Indian school students when launched by British Council in 2008. The competition in India is managed by the British Council, supported by Institute of Ideas, Shell Companies in India and the Wellcome Trust. Pfizer Inc supported the competition in its first edition.
Debating Matters aims to be less formal than traditional debates whilst being rigorous and encourages the participating students to argue their research well. The competition urges students to debate with a difference where logic over diction and substance over style are considered as the most important pattern.
Debating Matters is divided into three stages: Online Elimination Test, the Regional Finals and National Finals. The initial stage requires schools to appear for an online test followed by which 12 schools move on for the Regional Finals, eight schools thereafter proceed for the three – day residential National Finals held in British Council New Delhi.
The most important aspect of the Debating Matters is the involvement of high-profile professionals as judges. Professionals from all walks of life – journalists, scientists, artistes and corporates play a significant role in the ‘impression-based judging processes’.
Last year’s national winners, SM Choksey High School and Junior College, Pune, won the exhibition debate against UK Debating Matters champion Durham Johnston Comprehensive School in London in July ‘09.
Overall the competition in its two years has involved over 600 schools nearly 3600 students 200 judges and over 100 rounds of live debates.
The Alumni (students from last year’s competition) have joined hands with the British Council in delivering the live events, mentoring school students and even judging some rounds. They are going to “take-over’ significant discussion space in our blog.
A quick look at this year’s competition.
Online Elimination Test: 1 July – 1 September 2009
Kolkata: 27 – 28 November 2009
New Delhi: 30 November – 1 December 2009
Chennai: 30 November – 1 December 2009
Mumbai: 3 – 4 December 2009
New Delhi: 14 – 16 January 2010