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22 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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11th National Debate Festival

Sheikh Iraj
11th National Debate Festival

Debate competitions are always exciting and they are immensely popular all over the world. Debating assists youths, particularly students, in a number of ways. Taking part in debates improves public speaking, builds self-confidence, and helps develop coherent and critical thinking powers to a great extent. In case of a national debate festival, the enthusiasm among young debaters doubles.

Recently, National Debate Federation Bangladesh (NDF BD) organised the 11th National Debate Festival. About 2,000 debaters from 280 educational institutions, including different schools, madrasahs, colleges, universities and medical colleges, took part in the two-day event from February 9 to 10 at Bangladesh Shishu Academy in Dhaka.

“I am having a wonderful time. It is my first time at this national debate festival, but I would like to participate every year from now on,” M Enayat Ullah, 15, a class-10 student of Rural Development Academy School and College, said as he cheered for child debaters during the NDF BD Model Debate. Eight students from the school in Bogra came to the capital to participate in the festival, he added.

The grand event started with students collecting their ID cards, gift items and food coupons. Then the participants hoisted the national flag and sang the national anthem. Later, they held a grand rally in front of the festival venue at Shahbagh.

The debate festival was divided into interesting segments like model debate, regional debate, couples debate, global debate, ‘planchette’ debate, quiz competition, public speaking (Bangla and English) contests, workshop on debate focusing on presentation, pronunciation, stress management and use of microphone, and ‘meet the celebrity’.   

BAF Shaheen College, Dhaka won the quiz competition. Eighty-two teams participated in this segment, with each team comprising two students. Bir Shreshtha Noor Muhammud Public College became 1st runner-up and Cantonment College, Jessore was 2nd runner-up.

Ahnaf Aftab, 16, a student of class 10 and a member of the winning team, said: “My team member Muhtashim Anik and I had to seat for the primary round of the competition on the first day of the festival. After passing the primary round, we took part in the final round on the second day. It was a ‘press the buzzer’ style competition. It was really exciting and I remember feeling nervous the whole time. Nevertheless, we were fast enough to give the correct answers before the others. We received a medal, a trophy and a certificate. Our parents and friends are very happy with our achievement.”

There were 300 participants in the Bangla public speaking competition, while the number was 170 for the English speaking contest. Mushfika Sultana, 16, a student of class 10 at Foundation School, told this reporter: “Twenty students from our school have come here. I am going to take part in both English and Bangla public speaking competitions and the quiz contest. This festival is something our debate club members wait for every year. It is the biggest debating event in our country. It doesn’t matter how one performs, just being a part of the festival is quite exciting for me.”

The topic of the English public speaking competition was ‘Where we draw the line’. Utsho Saha, a student of Enam Medical College came in first, Lubna Mallik of the same college became second and Nusrat Jahan from Police Line School and College, Kushtia, was third. In the Bangla public speaking competition, Tamanna from R K State High School, Thakurgaon became first, Mahin from Police Line School & College, Kushtia, was second and Uponnas from Jahangirnagar University School was third. Only the first names of the winners were available for this segment.    

In the inter-school English debate competition, 32 teams participated. Academia School and College became the champion, while Bangladesh International School and College was the runner-up.

“On the first day of the festival, we took part in three preliminary rounds. After getting selected, we went to the final round,” said Mahatir Mahmud, 17, of Academia School and College, who recently completed his O’ levels. “The topic of the final round was ‘the colonial powers who ruled us, should they allow us free access to their countries or not?’ Thirty minutes before the start of the competition, we received the topic of the debate, so there was very little time to prepare. We were thrilled when we heard we were the winners. I have been associated with debating since class 6, and I would like to be involved with debating for the rest of my life. As far as the festival is concerned, I have never seen such a big debating event in our country before.”

The two-day festival was not all about competitions, there were many fun segments, too. For example, there was a global debate where foreigners living in Bangladesh were the debaters. “This year, there was a number of exciting segments at the festival. I liked the ‘planchette’ debate where the debaters appeared as some of famous characters in world history,” said Rifa Dul Islam, 16, a class-10 student of Jahangir Nagar University School & College.

At the ‘meet the celebrities’ segment of the festival, participants and visitors were a little disappointed as most of the celebrities who were supposed to be there did not show up. Nonetheless, TV and film personalities like actor Ferdous Ahmed, actor and director Shadidul Alam (Sachchu) and presenter Shamim Ahmed were present. Abid Hassan, 14, a student of class 9 at Narayanganj Ideal School, told Y&I: “I was eager to meet all the celebrities who were supposed to be here. However, I have come to this debate festival to take part in the quiz competition. The quiz questions are mostly on general knowledge.”

Scores of students, parents, teachers and visitors came to attend the debate festival from all corners of the country.

Moontahar Hossain, 17, a student of Government Brojmohun (BM) College came from Barisal. As she was waiting outside the main auditorium, preparing for the English public speaking competition, she told Y&I: “I have come here with my parents. This particular segment of the festival is open to all. I am thrilled to be here. I am happy to meet so many people who love debating.”

Tanvir Ahmed, who came from Barisal with his daughter, said: “My daughter is participating in this national debating competition for the first time. I was very pleased when I heard she wants to participate in the festival. I know some may think coming to the capital all the way from Barisal for a debate competition is too much, but I am willing to go to any part of the country, if necessary.”   

Abdur Nur, a teacher of Tanjimul Ummah Alim Madrasah in Dhaka, said: “Thirty students from our madrasah participated in this festival. Our students love to come here and we encourage it. Nowadays, students need to be more engaged in extracurricular activities like debating. It helps them in a number of ways. Two of our students have done remarkably well in the quiz competitions. The encouraging thing is the kind of excitement our students show to come here. Last time, after we went back to our madrasah, many other students came to congratulate their classmates.”

More than 300 volunteers were present during the festival. M Ashiqur Rahman, joint secretary of NDF BD, informed Y&I: “Throughout the year, we organise a number of debating contests and workshops, the national debate festival is our biggest event. We organise debating competitions in all the divisions of the country. Thus, we have good connection with many schools, colleges, and university debating clubs. Even if a certain educational institution doesn’t have a debating club, they can still come and participate. We invite students by going to their institutions. We also have an online registration process.”

Besides giving awards and certificates to the winners of the various competitions, National Debate Federation Bangladesh presented some other awards for different contributions. NDF-BD Life Time Achievement Award was presented to Hassan Ahmed Chowdhury for this outsanding contribution to debate. The best performance awards went to Sylhet, Rangpur, Khulna and Barisal. Khalilur Rahman, Rasna Sharmin, Abu Awal Sarder and HM Abdul Kader were honored for contribution to debating, while Mahbub Ripon of Titumir College, Tuhin Miah of ASA University, Kawser Ahmed of South East University, and Bilkis Bari of Mymensingh Home Economic College were declared the most promising performers.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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