More than 300 junior secondary school students and teachers from about 30 schools joined an innovative forum today (19 May) to put the debating skills they learnt from class into practice.
Selected students played the role of Government officials, representatives from the business sector and small-and-medium enterprises, scholars and consumers to debate the urgency for Hong Kong to enact a fair competition law.
They had received a briefing by the stakeholders of this issue shortly before the forum and then digested the information within limited time to give a presentation of their standpoints.
The Chairman of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) Mr Michael Tien was highly impressed by the students' excellent performance at the forum.
He commended their exceptional presentation. "What impressed me most was the manner and composure maintained by students in rebutting the challenges from other role-players and the audience, as well as their ability to elaborate on their standpoints in an organised fashion using debating skills they had acquired."
"This shows not only their mastery of the language skills, but also their critical and analytical thinking and self-cultivation. These are what we want to promote through debating education," Mr Tien said.
"As we were told by educators and veteran debaters, debating education can definitely help students learn through life, which was one of the key areas advocated in the education reform. I wish SCOLAR could step up the promotion of such teaching strategy to more schools."
The debate forum was part of a day camp organised by SCOLAR for its debating education programme for junior secondary school students.
The programme was launched by SCOLAR in the 2006/07 school year to promote the integration of debating into language education so as to motivate students to improve their language skills, as well as to strengthen their logical thinking, organisation skills and self-confidence.
88 schools participated in the programme, which includes professional development training for teachers, school-based support by the Language Learning Support Section of the Education and Manpower Bureau and a debating competition.
The best debaters of the competition spoke at today's forum. Assistant Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Economic Development) Ms Anna Chor; Permanent Honorary President of Jadeware Traders Industry and Commerce Association Dr Edwin Cheng; Life Honorable President of Hong Kong Chamber of Small and Medium Business Mr Felix Chan; Associate Professor of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Accounting and Finance Dr Lam Pun-lee; and Chief Research and Trade Practice Officer of Consumer Council Mr Victor Hung were invited to act as the speakers' advisors enabling them to better understand the topic of the forum.
A judging panel formed by debating experts chose the winners for the "Best Performance Award", "Most Co-operative Award" and "Best Question Award". Its members include Chief Adviser of the Debating Society of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Mr Alex Shiu; Teaching Consultant of the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong Mr Joseph Lam; College Lecturers of Hong Kong Community College of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKCC) Mr Hayson Liu and Dr Ying Koon-kau.
For more information on the SCOLAR Debating Education Programme for Junior Secondary Students, please visit the designated website at: http://www.debating.gov.hk.
Established in 1996, SCOLAR advises the Government on language education issues and the use of the Language Fund.