AFKAR concludes its National and Preliminary Phases of the Palestinian Debate Forum Competition 2013

 

AFKAR for Educational & Cultural Development concluded the Palestinian Debate Forum Competition program on a national level (NDC) in Palestinian schools. This was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education/ Public Administration for Programs and Activities and funded by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. More than 200 high schools participated representing 16 directorates of education in order to compete for top three directorates nationally.


The program was launched in the beginning of this scholastic year targeting 1200 students, directly, as they represented the tenth and eleventh grade within 200 public schools. NDC also targeted 32 supervisors representing 16 directorates of education in the West Bank including Jerusalem; while all preparations for all phases of the competition were finished.


AFKAR set the basis for this program by exposing target supervisors and students to debate concept, criteria and methodology including the refutation of statements which makes up the dynamic and interactive aspect of the whole process. AFKAR also focuses on scientific research methodologies, and critical and analytical thinking.


With the beginning of the second semester, semi eliminations among participating schools within their own directorates initiated. Each directorate came out with a team consisting of 3 students either from one or a variety of schools to represent their directorate. For the past three days, competitions were conducted as each directorate adopted a controversial topic. Topics with versatile as they included political, economical, social and human rights issues such as dealing with honor killing as a crime, globalization and how it “kills” local cultures, feminist movements and their failure in different societies… etc.


In the finale, Samir Shalaldeh, the Board Director of AFKAR, expressed his excitement about implementing the program, praising the role and efforts of the ministry represented by the Director General of the Administration of  Activities, Ms. Ilham Miheisen, and helping staff, for its support and providing all facilities needed to achieve the program’s goals.


On the one hand, Shalaldeh emphasized the importance of AFKAR’s partnership with the ministry, which helped make the experience a success and with qualitative value.


On the other hand, Ms. Miheisen asserted the significance of the Palestinian Debate Forum Competition (PDFC) in schools with its rich objectives that work on spreading culture and awareness  amongst students around social issues. PDFC also works on boosting the students’ self-esteem to present their cases in front of an audience.


Besides, Ms. Miheisen praised AFKAR’s role in targeting students, and presenting qualitative services in education. She also stressed the importance of  integration between different NGOs in order to enhance the educational environment in schools.


At the end of festivities, Odeh Zahran, CEO of AFKAR, announced the results for the top 6 directorates. Jericho came in first, while South Hebron came in second. Bethlehem got third place; Ramallah followed in fourth place. And lastly, Qalqelia took fifth place, while Tulkarem took sixth.


Zahran affirmed that the national team will be formed within the six winning directorates to represent Palestine locally and regionally regarding debate competitions. Valuable prizes were distributed to winning students, in addition to trophies to all participating directorates.


In opposition, the preliminary phase of PDFC in private and public schools for the year 2013 in Ramallah and Bethlehem, funded by the Pontifical Mission/ Jerusalem and the National Endowment for Democracy, had been finalized. 78 students in 16 high schools were targeted through this phase: 12 private schools and 4 public schools.


Saint Joseph Girls School in both Bethlehem and Ramallah came in first place amongst private schools, while At-Ta’aamrah Girls School in Bethlehem came in the same place amongst public schools. The Catholic Co-ed School in Ramallah and the Shepherds Orthodox Co-ed School took second place amongst private schools, while Bet Sahur Boys School took the same amongst public schools. Lastly, Saint George Co-ed School in Ramallah and the Latin Patriarchate Co-ed School in Bethlehem came in third place amongst private schools, while Al-Masqat Girls School came in the same place amongst public schools.


In addition, AFKAR also finalized the first part of the same phase in ten high schools, targeting 30 students in Ramallah and South Nablus. However, this phase, which is funded by Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, will be finalized in the first scholastic semester of 2013/2014.


PDFC, with its preliminary and national phases, aims to expose youth leaderships in schools to a different culture of debate, based on scientific criteria, proven statements and facts, respect to humane values and basic regulations of debate in dealing with “the other”, which reflects positively within developmental policies; taking into account that change cannot be achieved without empowering these leaderships who are considered to be the future of tomorrow.


All competitions mentioned were supervised by a panel of professional judges who obtain a long experience of evaluating students, where some of them have already worked with AFKAR since the program was first launched in 2009 and they are: Wafa’ Abd Ar-Rahman, CEO of Filastiniyat, Nasser Abu Mattar, CEO of Nafs for Empowerment, Huthayfah Jalamneh, Program Manager of Elham Palestine, Raeda Ash-Shuaibi, Arabic Language Teacher at Saint Joseph’s School in Ramallah, Abd As-Salam khaddash, Program Manager of Tamer Institute, Basimah Zarour, Critical Thinking coach, Amal Jum’aah, Information Officer of WATC, Khadijeh Eweidat, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences in UNRWA and Muhanad Abd Al-Hameed, independent writer and journalist.


It is worth mentioning that PDFC, after being implemented in schools as an educational process and a basic, daily practice by students, will be disseminated by AFKAR in some Palestinian colleges, based on AFKAR’s model of debate for college students starting next semester of 2013/2014. Hopefully, PDFC will be disseminated to include all colleges in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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