Mr Michael Tien, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), encouraged Hong Kong students to participate in debating activities in order to nurture in them analytical capability, logic, reasoning, and respect for different beliefs.
Speaking at the briefing session cum website launching ceremony for the SCOLAR Debating Competition for Junior Secondary Students today (29 November), Mr Tien praised debating as an activity widely recognised by the education sector as an effective means for learning and teaching.
"Debating provides students with a learning experience balanced in both language and critical thinking. It also blends the need of the four major language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing, making language learning for students more meaningful and interesting," he said.
"Students also learn to work in a team, analyse from different angles, convince people with reasons, and be positive and accepting," he said. "Our education reform aims to develop students to 'enjoy learning, communicate effectively, have a sense of commitment and be creative'. Debating helps one or all these fronts."
The SCOLAR Debating Competition for Junior Secondary Students is the first of its kind organised by SCOLAR to enhance students' motivation for language learning, better train their skills of language use (in particular in listening and speaking), sharpen their logical thinking capability and organisation skills, as well as help them build up self-confidence and a sense of team work.
Of the 106 applications received, 63 schools were selected by drawing lots to enter the preliminary competition. Each of these schools will put together a team of eight debaters comprising Secondary 1 to 3 students to compete in four regions, namely Hong Kong, Kowloon, New Territories East and New Territories West. The two winning teams in each region will enter the inter-region competition in the quarter-finals. The grand final will be held in July 2006.
Participating students will be challenged to give immediate response on stage to questions and rebuttals raised by their opponents. To allow more students to take part, a "Think-tank Challenge" session would also be introduced into the competition. A group of think-tank members will join the debaters on stage to give instant advice as well as to challenge the opponent team.
A series of debating workshops will be arranged in December for teachers of participating schools, aiming to strengthen their own skills in debating for training their students and enhance their knowledge on using debating in language teaching.
A ceremony was held today to launch the competition website (http://www.debating.gov.hk) tailor-made for the general public to learn more about the competition and about debating in general. Other officiating guests include SCOLAR Members cum Organising Committee Members of the competition, Mrs Jane Or, Mrs Agnes Tsui and Ms Wong Fung-yee.
Two of the competition's voluntary trainers, Dr Fung Shu-fun, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Chinese, Hong Kong Institute of Education and Honorary Advisor of the New Territories Joint School Debating Association, and Mr Alex Shiu, trainer of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Debating Team, also held a briefing session after the ceremony to introduce details of the competition to participating schools.
Established in 1996, SCOLAR advises the Government on language education issues and the use of the Language Fund.