Our History

IDEA was established in 1999 following a series of initiatives fostering the development of debate in newly democratic post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. IDEA has always strived to be more than ‘just’ a debate-promoting entity, rooting its activities within the wider socio-political contexts and events taking place, and striving for debate to be the go-to educational medium to help young people grow into socially minded leaders. 

  • Throughout the 1990s, debate coaches from the US trained teachers in Eastern Europe in using debate methodology in class. 
    Although debate was an entirely new phenomenon in the countries included in the programme, it soon developed into an irreplaceable avenue for students to express opinions, discuss important issues, and become informed citizens.
  • In 1999, the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) was created by several national debate organisations and supported by Open Society Foundations. Its mission was to coordinate debate programmes and serve as an independent membership organization, connecting debate clubs, national debate organisations, schools, and individuals with one common goal: to promote mutual understanding and democracy globally by supporting discussion and active citizenship locally.
  • For over two decades, IDEA has been bringing debate, active citizenship training, curriculum development and international student exchanges and forums to young people across the world, with a particular focus on developing democracies.
  • In the next 20 years IDEA has worked all over the world creating debate communities, promoting pedagogy of empowerement and quality of youth work in over 60 countries across all continents and we are or have been engaged with communities from following countries:
  • Africa: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South African Republic, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe

  • Americas: Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, USA, Venezuela

  • Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan

  • Europe: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, N. Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom

  • Today, IDEA is a network of member organisations, with over 1500 debate clubs and over 4000 young participants from 84 countries at IDEA Youth Forum events. IDEA created the Debatabase, a valuable digital education resource with more than 700 debate motions analysed.

    These are not just fragments of numerical data - they are indicators of our endeavours. We organize debate activities in many languages and countries, while continuing to grow and striving constantly to improve the quality and quantity of our services - working locally, acting globally.