High schools in St Thomas will be competing for prizes valued at over $500,000 in the Paul Bogle and The Warriors Debating Competition which gets underway this week.
The competition which is now in its second year, seeks to foster, particularly among students enrolled in high schools, a greater measure of positive involvement in the socio-cultural, political, and economic dynamics of their communities, parish, and Jamaica within the context of the Morant Bay War (Rebellion) of 1865.
The participating schools this year are Robert Lightbourne High, Paul Bogle High, Seaforth High, Morant Bay High, The Academy of Yallahs High, and St Thomas Technical High School.
Morant Bay High won the inaugural debate in 2021.
The St Thomas Renaissance Foundation, a for-impact organisation whose mandate is to spur economic and social development within the parish, is the conceptualiser and organiser of the debate competition.
The foundation has partnered with the country’s accomplished debate planner, the Jamaican Association for Debating and Empowerment, JADE, to execute the competition. First Heritage Cooperative Credit Union, FHC Credit Union, has come on board as the competition’s main sponsor.
The six high schools within the parish will begin their debates during the week of September 20, in three matches based on a randomised draw.
This will result in three winners who will automatically advance to the next round. The team with the lowest score is automatically eliminated at this stage.
The two remaining losing teams will face off and the winner of this match will advance along with the previous three winners to compete in the semi-final rounds.
The semifinals will be in two rounds. The finalists will be the two teams with the highest combination of team and individual points at the end of both rounds. Teams will be awarded three points for each win and one point for each loss. Speaker points will also be awarded to individuals on each team. The two highest-scoring teams will play in the grand finale. The third and fourth-ranked teams will face off for third place.
The motions for the competition were crafted to reflect the historical, cultural, and contemporary issues of the parish. Among the hot button topics to be debated are: ‘This House Believes that the Morant Bay War has done more good than harm to the parish of St Thomas’.
‘This House Believes that St Thomas continues to suffer from neglect by successive political and private sector interests for daring to stage the Morant Bay War’. ‘This House as the British Government of 1865 would sentence Governor Edward Eyre to the death penalty for crimes against humanity which he sanctioned during the Morant Bay War of 1865’.
The winning school and its team members will receive the coveted trophy, cash prizes from FHC Credit Union, and Chromebooks courtesy of the Foundation, among other prizes. The winning team will also be afforded the opportunity to compete in a debate tournament at the University of West Georgia in the United States. Sectional prizes will also be presented to the best speakers and the schools’ coaches.
The grand finals will be held on October 11, the day that marked the beginning of the Morant Bay War when the residents of St Thomas rose up against the injustices that were meted out against them by their colonial masters in 1865.
The St Thomas Renaissance Foundation Inc. is a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting education, healthcare, economic development, and social initiatives in the parish of St Thomas, Jamaica.