New York, June 9, 2011—A crowd of 220 students and 55 ministry and school representatives sat riveted as high school youths from the Governorate of Salfit participated in the final round of the first ever debate competition co-hosted by OneVoice Palestine on May 26.
The final four teams debated various social and political issues in the occupied Palestinian territories, including women’s rights and economics. The competition was organized in conjunction with Ramallah-based NGO Afkar for Educational and Cultural Development, a partner organization with OneVoice Palestine that works on issues like education, good governance, and democracy in the West Bank. Executive Director Samer Makhlouf sat on a panel of three judges at the competition.
“As we engage in nonviolent movements we need to maintain a way in which people can scream to the world so that it listens, and the art of debate has a major role in this approach,” said Makhlouf. “It is highly important to advance this capacity within the youth sector so that they may become voices in their communities, schools, and at home.”
Organizing the competition started over a year ago, according to Makhlouf, who was involved in the process with Afkar early on. The students, in teams of four and guided by predetermined topics, held debates against other schools over a six-month period. The top four teams participated in the final round and the winners received monetary prizes.
Dr. Abed al-Hodali, a consultant working for the Palestinian Ministry of Education and a panel judge, lauded OneVoice Palestine’s work in advancing the performance of youth leadership. Al-Hodali recalled the OneVoice’s Imagine 2018 as one such campaign that makes sure Palestinian youth get a platform to speak to the world.
Imagine 2018, organized in cooperation with the Palestinian and Israeli school districts in 2008, re-launched in 2010 as a contest where Palestinian and Israeli youth share their visions of the region in 2018.