The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is one of the most prominent debating platforms for high school students from across the globe. Some of the countries that regularly send students to WSDC include Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, the UAE, Pakistan, India, Singapore, South Africa, China, Argentina and Peru.
Not only is WSDC the best platform to help your ward gain international recognition, but preparing for and participating in it will also offer him a wealth of knowledge and many lifelong friends. Past patrons of WSDC include famous personalities like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Tony Blair.
Although preparing for WSDC is indeed a tall order, it is not impossible by any means. All your ward needs to have is a willingness to train hard for a few months and a truckload of enthusiasm!
Read on to know more about this contest and its requirements.
1. The ‘when’ and ‘where’ of WSDC
The venue for the Championships is never the same. It is held in a different country every year. This year the tournament is taking place in Bali from 1–11 August.
2. The participants
All students aged between fourteen and eighteen years, who will not begin their undergraduate studies by mid-August of the year of the championship, are eligible to participate.
3. The language
It is a must for all the participants to deliver their speech only in English.
4. Team India
There are three ways to apply and qualify for Team India.
- A student can compete in one of the ten Regional tournaments held in the country. The Indian Schools Debate Championships (ISDC) conducts these tournaments in partnership with schools.
- Apply online by submitting a CV if a student can’t or doesn’t wish to participate in Regional tournaments.
- Be nominated by partner organisations
5. The WSDC format
The format of the Championships is unique. It consists of two teams having three speakers each. The teams are called the Proposition and the Opposition. Each participant is allowed to speak for eight minutes. From the second to the seventh minute of the speech, the Opposition can ask the speaker questions, known as ‘Points of Information’. Once all the six speakers have spoken, the teams have an option to deliver a four-minute ‘reply’ speech, which is a summation of earlier speeches.
6. The judges
All the debates are judged by an odd-numbered panel of judges. A Chief Adjudicator is responsible for selecting the judges of the Championships. This is a tedious process and involves grading the judges based on their experience. It also involves affirming the fact that a judge was not a member of the panel that judged the home team of a country.
7. The judging criteria
Out of a total of 100 marks for the main speech, 40 is for Content, 40 for Style and 20 for Strategy. The ‘reply’ speech is marked out of a total of 50 marks, of which 20 is for Content, 20 is for Style, and 10 is for Strategy.
8. The training
At the school level, training is provided by trainers of ISDC and WSDC alumni to prepare the students to participate in the regional tournaments. But, after qualifying in various rounds, once a student makes it to the top 24 in the final stages, they are trained rigorously by WSDC coaches, from both India and abroad. All the participants are observed closely during this stage and only five are selected from this pool to represent Team India.
9. The sponsors
The Ramco Cements Limited, Ramco Industries Limited, Rajapalayam Mills and Ramco Systems are the sponsors of ISDC and WSDC India.
10. The benefits
As students from many countries participate in WSDC, participants get a chance to closely observe different cultures of the world, the opportunity to connect with children from different parts of the world, and engage in healthy competition through debate.
Takeaways for those who don’t make it all the way
Even if a child doesn’t make it to the finals, the advantages are plenty. Preparing for a debating championship would offer a child the chance to:
- Gain knowledge about disciplines outside his own
- Improve critical thinking skills
- Enhance analytical and research skills
- Increase confidence
- Develop oratorical and note-taking skills
- Improve the ability to convince listeners, fend off arguments and oppose ideas without sounding offensive
This is a treasure-trove of competencies that are required to succeed in almost every field.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.