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The British High Commission in Brunei hosts The Great Debate Competition 2018

In partnership with the Department of Co-Curriculum Education at the Ministry of Education, the British High Commission hosted The Great Debate Competition 2018 as part of the ASEAN GREAT Education Campaign.

For the finals Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre and Sayyidina Ali Secondary School debating the motion "This House believes The Commonwealth cannot significantly influence and set the shape and pace of global trade policy"
For the finals Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre and Sayyidina Ali Secondary School debating the motion "This House believes The Commonwealth cannot significantly influence and set the shape and pace of global trade policy".

The British High Commission in partnership with the Department of Co-Curriculum Education at the Ministry of Education organised the first ever Great Debate Competition with 6th Form Schools in Brunei. To kick off the competition, a briefing and coaching workshop was held for all participating students, teachers and judges at Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre (PTES).

The briefing covered the format of the debate competition, which was carried out by Adam Mokhtar from the Department of Co-Curriculum Education. During the briefing, His Excellency Richard Lindsay, British High Commissioner to Brunei introduced the theme for the debating competition.

The debate workshop and coaching session with Deputy British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Paul Rennie
The debate workshop and coaching session with Deputy British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Paul Rennie.

H.E. Richard Lindsay said:

We have chosen ‘The Commonwealth’ as the theme for the Great Debate Competition. Both the UK and Brunei are members of this family of 52 nations, and with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in UK in April this year, this is an opportunity for young students in Brunei to research into, and debate its ongoing relevance.

This competition is designed to help students to develop their debating skills – building self confidence to speak in public, forming clear arguments, and understanding and engaging with others’ perspectives. This should be very helpful preparation for students who are looking to go overseas for their university education, and I encourage any student to consider the excellent opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Following the briefing session was the coaching workshop, that was carried out by the Deputy British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Paul Rennie. Prior to his current posting in Malaysia he has had postings in India, Brazil and the United Nations New York, as well as various jobs in London. Paul began his debating career at school, where he achieved considerable success as a competitive debater. He was a member of the team that became the first Scottish School to win the British Observer Mace competition, and went on to represent Scotland at the World Schools Debating Competition where the team finished second, and he finished third in the individual speaker contest. He continued to debate and coach debating while at Edinburgh University, organising the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Scottish Schools Debating Competition where more than 150 schools took part. Since then, Paul has been involved in numerous international negotiations during his career in the Foreign Office, including at the UN and in the G7 and G20, which he views as just a continuation of his debating career.

Paul Rennie said:

The debating skills I picked up as a student have been critical tools in my career. They gave me confidence and taught me to challenge and think critically about issues that affect us all. It was also a reminder of the importance of seeing the other side to any argument.

Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Boys School debating against Maktab Sains
Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Boys School debating the motion “This House believes The Commonwealth has done a good job to date working to sustainably manage ecosystems, preserve natural environments and produce renewable energy” against Maktab Sains

The Great Debate Competition 2018 officially started at PTES with a full day of preliminary rounds, followed by half a day for the preliminaries and half a day for the semi finals. The theme for the competition was ‘The Commonwealth: Towards a Common Future’ reflecting the theme of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which His Majesty the Sultan will attend on the UK in April. The topics to be debated will touch on areas that are of importance to Brunei, the UK and the wider Commonwealth such as Education, Environment, Climate Change, Skilled Youth and Youth Unemployment, Women and Gender Equality, and the Economy.

This is the first Great Debate Competition, and is a new milestone in partnership between the Department of Co-Curriculum Education at the Ministry of Education and the British High Commission, supported by CfBT Education Services. There are five 6th Form Schools in Brunei participating in the competition: PTES, Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College (Maktab Duli); Hassanal Bolkiah Arabic Boys Secondary School (SMALHB); Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College (Maktab Sains) and Sayyidina Ali Secondary School (SMSA).

Semi finalists of The Great Debate Competition
Semi finalists of The Great Debate Competition.

British High Commissioner to Brunei H.E. Richard Lindsay said:

We are very excited to be working with the Department of Co-Curriculum Education at the Ministry of Education to help young Bruneians develop their public speaking skills and self confidence.

The Great Debate Competition is also a means to encourage young Bruneians to get involved in a conversation about the Commonwealth, and to ensure that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this year will be relevant to all of its members.

British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education Nadia Abdullah and the rest of the participants of The Great Debate Competition 2018
British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education Nadia Abdullah and the rest of the participants of The Great Debate Competition 2018.

The finals of The Great Debate Competition was held at Radio Television Brunei’s Dewan Raya and the Guest of Honour was the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Core Education) at the Ministry of Education, Nadia Lee Siew Hoon binti Abdullah. The two finalists of the competition were PTES as the proposition and SMSA as the opposition. The motion debated for the finals was “This House believes The Commonwealth cannot significantly influence and set the shape and pace of global trade policy.” SMSA emerged as the champions of the inaugural Great Debate Competition.

British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay with the champions and runner ups of The Great Debate Competition 2018
British High Commissioner Richard Lindsay with the champions and runner ups of The Great Debate Competition 2018.

The Great Debate Competition is an opportunity to celebrate the UK and Brunei’s close educational ties supporting Brunei Vision 2035 to produce a future generation of dynamic leaders. Debating encourages students to engage across a broad range of topics, and teaches students to think quickly on their feet, and to listen critically in order to construct and explain arguments. The British High Commission facilitated a debate coaching session for participating students at Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre (PTES) on 29 January.

The Great Debate Competition is part of the ASEAN GREAT Education Campaign programme activities organised by the British High Commission. The competition aims to support the Ministry of Education’s push to cultivate an innovative and creative culture of learning; to empower, educate and provide a platform to help students to be open-minded and to develop communication and critical thinking skills that can be useful in university life and future careers; and provide recognition to participating students that exhibits excellent performance in their research and communication skills.

Further information

Photos from the finals of the competition can be found on our UKinBrunei Flickr.

Published 29 March 2018