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First guest blogger

This is a momentous week for the debates blog: we are proud to present our very first guest blogger! Pamela Morgan, a member of the St Joseph of Cluny Concern Debating Team, sent us in this account of her first round debate.

If any of the rest of you want to contribute to this blog, feel free to email us at Anyway, without further ado, here’s Pamela:

For our first Concern Debate we were opposing the motion that “Overseas Development Aid is a waste of money.” Our opponents were The Institute of Education. It was my first time taking part in a Concern debate, so I was a little nervous! The team, however, are supportive, and worked together to find information, allocate topics and prepare speeches. We received a lot of invaluable help from our teacher, Mr Byrne.

We were well prepared before the debate began, but we knew we would have to incorporate rebuttal into our speeches. This often involves scrapping a lot of precious information! None of us looked forward to it. Our speeches had to last from four to four and a half minutes, but no longer or we would be penalised.

Once the debate starts, you must be alert. You are permitted to pass notes regarding rebuttal to your team-mates, so you have to think fast. When the time comes for you to deliver your speech, you only have a few minutes to include all the relevant points. It is essential to engage your audience, speak slowly, refer to your team-mates and make sure not to read your information.

In my own speech I emphasised the importance of education aid. I spoke about educational poverty, and explained how this can influence the problems of hunger and disease, and is vital in the fight against AIDS. I said that education is central to development, and changes people’s lives. I argued that education is the key to ending poverty, and used Concern’s Harambee Project in Haiti as a case study. I concluded my speech with this quote from UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura: “Education is one of the most powerful instruments we have for bringing about the changes required to achieve sustainable development.”

We won our first debate, and all went home delighted. There is a lot of time and research involved in Concern Debates, but I can definitely say it’s worth all the hard work.