A Big Step Forward

The JMF has been implementing the Youth Engaged in Civil Society project since 2004. The project is aimed at fostering democracy and developing civically conscious and socially responsible citizens in Armenia through the creation and development of Debate Clubs for secondary and high school students. About 130 established debate clubs involve students aged 14-17, who later use debate as a tool for being engaged in the civil society development process. The project provided knowledge to high schools students about key issues related to the development of civil society, democracy and human rights, building communication and analytical thinking skills that will permit them to more actively participate in the development of Armenian society. The debate clubs, organized in the schools as extracurricular activities, also add value to the education system. The initiative builds links between youth, the NGO sector, and governmental agencies through a civic initiative seminar series and round-table discussions.

In December 2013 a call for debate teams was announced by Bratislava School Debate Association. An annual international debate competition in English is to be held in Bratislava, Slovakia in the beginning of April 2014. The JMF decided to apply for the competition and started to look for English speaking debaters among the project beneficiaries who are good at public speaking as well. After conducting over 70 interviews in schools where debate clubs were operating, the JMF formed the team of four debaters. Khachatur Margaryan, Mary Mesropyan and Lucy Bichakhchyan were among the most active members of the JMF’s debate clubs in 3 different schools. Three of the debaters were Flex program students, as for the fourth member, Grigor Khachatryan who has not participated in Flex program, yet is a distinguished member of our debate club. So the JMF formed the team and applied for the competition. In two weeks the invitation to participate in this prestigious tournament was sent to the JMF. It’s for the first time that a team from Armenia will participate in suchlike international debate competition along with other teams from countries like Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine. All the team members are enthusiastic and optimistic about this competition.

Good luck to our debaters!