On Thursday, January 5, PORG Ostrava hosted a workshop for young debaters in Ostrava. A new league is being opened for upper primary school students; students and teachers from PORG and Matiční had the chance to become acquainted with the new format. The workshop was led by Barbara Lacinová, a member of the Czech Debate Association, and the project is supported by the OSF Foundation as part of the Active Citizens Fund program, which aims to support civil society and strengthen the capacities of non-profit organizations. The project is financed from the EEA and Norway Funds.
The support of extremist and populist parties among young people in the Czech Republic is constantly growing. It is caused by the formal education’s lack of focus on critical thinking, media literacy, and active citizenship. The aim of this project is to tackle this problem by introducing debating as a method of non-formal education in middle schools because debating has been proven to improve critical thinking skills and develop democratic values in its participants.
PORG Ostrava has had a debate club for older students for quite a few years now, and this new league provides opportunities for our younger kids to also begin learning important life skills. Debate enables young students to gain knowledge about current topics, formulate opinions convincingly and present them, argue objectively and ethically, to sort and filter their thoughts, speak in front of an audience without fear, evaluate the quality of the information they encounter (e.g. spot “fake news”) and think critically, as well as work with resources, data and statistics. In addition, PORG’s debate club students have the opportunity to do this in both Czech and English, thereby improving their communication skills in two languages.
In the upcoming months, our students will be competing in school rounds to determine which team will compete in the regional tournament, which will thus determine which team goes on to the national round, and, ultimately, the international round. We wish our young debaters lots of luck in the coming months and years!