Sat, 26 Apr 2003

Debating contest in English

It was a pleasant surprise to read the news on the results of the 2003 National High School Debating Championship in the English language that was held from April 11 to April 16 in Jakarta (The Jakarta Post, April 19 and April 20).

From the finalists of 24 contestants, selected from 32 teams, representing 19 provinces, eight were selected, including three from Jakarta, two from Tangerang, and one each from Lampung, Surakarta and Makassar. The eight winners will further participate in the 2003 World Debating Championship to be held in Lima, Peru.

The absence of winners from high schools from any large cities other than Jakarta revealed the fact that as far as English skills in city high schools are concerned, the status as metropolises does not carry with it an accompanying special skill in the English language. Rather the quality of the English teachers and the students' ability to study themselves are the preeminent factors.

The numbers of participants must be applauded as a landmark in the progress of English instruction and promotion at senior high schools at the national level.

The only regret felt at reading the reports of the spectacular debating contest was that the event was not open to spectators.

From the viewpoint of idealism embedded in the concept of national education and the promotion pertaining to the English language, visualizing in particular the ideals of future advancement of international relations or globalization, it is hard to understand why the general public was not afforded the opportunity to watch and listen to the interesting debates of our youngsters on topics of national concern.

Among the topics debated were, reportedly, features dealing with the current political problems, democracy and human rights. Surely the fading generations should be interested in teaching our youngsters at high schools as to what they have to say about democracy and human rights, both as popular concepts and how they prevail in practice.

S. SUHAEDI, Jakarta