There was a high demand for more school debate from parents, secondary school students and University students after a pilot debate between Malapoa and Central school students yesterday.

The Pilot School Debate is initiated by the Kiwanis Club of Port Vila, in partnership with Balance of Power (BOP) and Titan FX. This initiative, which was launched earlier this year, aims to develop students’ skills from their current level to prepare them for the future.

Yesterday, three debates took place. The first was on Community Engagement, discussing whether community service should be mandatory in school curricula. Central School won, advocating for the affirmative side. The second debate centered on Effective Leadership, debating shared vs. hierarchical leadership. Malapoa College won arguing against shared leadership.

The last debate focused on National Referendums, exploring their role in political stability. With this topic, the audience was surprised and acknowledged both sides of the argument, where the students conveyed powerful insights regarding the referendum, especially why there should be a referendum and why we should delay the referendum.

Sarah Mecartney, the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Melanesia Regional Director, who served as one of the judges, commented during the debate that it reflected a prevailing opinion, and as a Ni-Vanuatu, she felt very proud of all the debaters.

“No matter the outcomes are of the results, I think, it just the beginning and then it’s get better and better. Trust me I’ve been in a debate before, I never won the debate but everyone remembers my voice,” she said.

A parent who attended the pilot debate said after the debate that he acknowledges the Kiwanis Club of Port Vila, BOP, and Titan FX for such an initiative that will shape children for a better future.

“The discussion and exchange will help the students with their decision-making as they grow. We should have more debates for our children to engage in on current issues that affect us, so that as they grow older, they will know what to do,” the parent said.

There were also questions asked to the organisers after the debate by some university students and some junior secondary schools students asking to be part of the initiative, to which the organisers stated that they will work on it.

One of the organisers, Wilson Toa, BOP Country Manager, said what they are looking for in this initiative is the demand, they wanted more people to take part in the debate.

He said yesterday marked another beginning of debating in Vanuatu. He also thanked Malapoa College and Central School for taking the initiative to conduct the pilot program, in order to see how they can move forward.

The next debate is scheduled for September this year, and it will be the SHEFA inter-school debate competition. The purpose of the pilot debate was to get feedback that will assist in enhancing processes as they prepare for the SHEFA inter-school debate competition.