KARACHI: Debating skills are an important addition to any student's toolkit and two students have put them to good use and proved their mettle in an online speech competition organised by Voices of the Future, based in the United States of America (USA). The winners will be travelling to Washington, USA on July 10 to receive their award following which they will attend a two-week summer camp for high school debaters, organised by Institute of Speech and Debate (ISD), at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Voices of the Future is dedicated to spreading the art of speech and debate among elementary school students. Its pilot project was conducted in Creekside Elementary School and four weeks later, with an assortment of 20 student-turned-debaters, the organisation decided to expand the programme. Currently, this programme is under way in three elementary schools in San Ramon Valley Unified School District and over 150 students have benefitted from it.
In Fall 2018, the organisation created a programme at Beacon Light Academy in Karachi which aimed at introducing high school freshmen and sophomores to the basics of speech and debate.
The competition was open to all and anyone from anywhere could participate. More than 50 students from Beacon Light and hundreds from across the country logged onto Skype to participate in the competition which lasted eight months. The participants were given different tasks every week which included developing and presenting arguments for different topics.
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Muhammad Anique and Aira Gabol, both grade 10 students, won the prestigious event.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Anique's father, Fahim Iqbal, expressed delight at his son's achievement and said that his son had brought honour to Pakistan, especially Karachi. "I pray that he achieves success in every field of his life". He requested the government to encourage students and help them develop their debating skills. He added that it was not necessary to facilitate the students monetarily, but rather showing appreciation goes a long way in increasing the students' confidence.
Iqbal said that his son has performed well in his classes from the very beginning and participated in many speech competitions. He has won more than 13 such competitions, he added. 'I want to see Anique become a great debater in the future".
Anique's younger sister who is just six years old also participates in speech competitions and is also known to win. Iqbal praised the efforts of his wife, Faiza, and credited her for this success.
Anique, excited about his upcoming trip, said that he would be visiting USA for the first time. "It will be a great opportunity for me and I'll experience and learn many things". He said that he would share his experience with his friends and other people when he returns home.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2019.