FIVE emerging young leaders will represent the country in the upcoming 2nd Melanesian School Debate Competition in Port Vila, Vanuatu, next month.
They are Tania Wickham of St. Nicholas College, Nauna Revoh of Florence Young Christian School, John Firibo of Bishop Epalle Catholic School, Rochelle Palmer of KGVI School and Jayson Joseph of Betikama Adventist College.
This will be the second time for Tania to represent Solomon Islands.
The Melanesian School debate committee (MSDC) in collaboration with the Solomon Islands National Schools Speech Competition and Mini -English and Arts Festival Committee, selected the five best students during the recent English Festival in Honiara.
Rochelle Palmer and Jayson Joseph were selected from their outstanding performances in the senior category speech competition as first and second place winners respectively while Tania Wickham, Nauna Revoh and John Firibo scored high marks from their good debates presented in the competition.
The selection was done on each student marks gained and not as a whole school team.
The committee for the debate competition is now working tirelessly around the clock to prepare the students as they have only 4 weeks before the actual competition.
A couple of meetings have already been held by the committee to update the students prior to the debate.
Topics for the upcoming debate were not available as yet but the committee is encouraging the students to read more on issues affecting Pacific Island countries.
However, the topics maybe similar to last year’s debate program in Papua New Guinea which include issues like:
• Customary land in Melanesia should be registered to ensure sustainable development and economic growth Donors,
• Foreign Aid Donors should decide how Pacific Island countries spend their money and,
• It is fair for Australia to negotiate with Pacific islands Countries to host asylum seekers.
According to Committee member and Chief Parliamentary Civic Education Officer, Ms Marisa Pepa “The students will be having a mock debate session to help them develop their confidence to stand in front of a large crowd of people.”
Solomon Islands came second to Papua New Guinea in last year’s first Melanesian School Debate after they were down by just three points only in the final round of speech competition.
With its second place, team Solomon was also awarded the first runner up cup for the best speaker of debate and the best male speaker award.
Jasmine Waleafea of National Parliament Office who had accompanied team Solomon to Papua New Guinea last year says our team’s performance in the first Melanesian School debate was impressive and outstanding.
“We are competent but have a lot of room for improvement for future similar events,” she said.
Therefore she encouraged this year’s competitors for the 2nd Melanesian debate to sharpen up on expressions and tone variations when they debate.
“You have to look at the judge to impress them” Jasmine explained.
She also encouraged the students to practice team work. From observations during the recent committee meeting, team Solomon is looking confident to reach the finals.
With the inclusion of team Fiji, this year’s debate will be competitive since the first competition was organized only amongst three closest Melanesian neighbors, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
The objectives of the debate competition was geared towards building confidence among students, recognition of their leadership qualities, and enables the voice of youths to be heard by policy and law makers and contributes to influence public decision making.
It was an initiative derived from the success of the first ever Regional Youth Parliament (RYP) hosted by Solomon Islands National Parliament on September 2013.
Vani K Nades, a former employer of the Institute of Business Studies (IBS) PNG who attended the Regional Youth Parliament as an observer further pursue the idea to organize last year’s first school debate in Papua New Guinea.
Organisers said the idea was to engage students from all Melanesian countries.
Team Solomon will again carry the country’s flag in this program through the proud support of the National Parliament Office, the Ministry of Education and Human resources and Youth Development Division of the Ministry of Women, Youth Children and Family Affairs.
The program of debate is schedule to kick start from the 21st to 25th September 2015.