The level of importance of the ability to voice one’s beliefs and opinions in a clear and concise manner is sadly underrated.
Majority of educational systems depend on the reproduction of information, whereas it all revolves around production and synthesis in debating circles.
Learning to advocate for one’s own rights and freedoms opens many, many doors. The field of opportunities starts blooming, from professional to personal ones.
Articulating your capabilities, being able to structure arguments, make convincing analyses and presenting your ideas, plans and projects to a group are all rare and highly prized skills, wanted in a professional environment.
This is immensely essential for less privileged youth with already fewer opportunities, religious and ethnic minorities and non-organized youth.
That’s why we insist on creating programs that aid social inclusion, meant to provide these people with more chances of engaging in civic society and learning to stand up for themselves by teaching them valuable skills debating has to offer. Also, this is why programs like the Urban Debate League are particularly impactful – they provide opportunities for minority students who are at greater risk of living in underserved communities, or at being exposed to (affected by, or recruited into) gang violence.
At an interpersonal level, we want to equip the young with effective communication skills so that inter-group contact becomes facilitated and peaceful (for e.g. in post-conflict areas) - through debate, discussion, dialogue, interaction and exchange.
If we educate young people through debate instruction in argumentation, research, democratic values and norms, and provide them with opportunities to talk about contemporary issues, investigate problems and potential solutions then these young people will become educated and engaged voters of the future.
Not only that, their levels and numbers of participation in democratic processes will be increased, as well as the potential of their direct involvement in politics.
The first step to getting youth to care about the society around them and to get involved with its ailments is to get them to learn about it, research, investigate and train their minds to analyze its challenges and problems. Debate is the perfect method for generating opportunities for youth to take that first step.