Debate Leader School is an educational project for pupils, which allows them to acquire not only the various knowledge necessary for debate (argumentation, public speech, introduction to politics), but also the critical thinking and media literacy skills that everyone, especially aspiring Latvian leaders, need.
All sessions are in English, which gives an opportunity to practice one’s foreign language and improve academic performance.
For the fourth year, the British Council Latvia has been co-operating with the “QUO Tu domā?” organisation, not only to support the Debate Leader School sessions throughout the academic year (sessions take place once a month – on weekends), but also the summer camp for young people as well as other activities where young people can test and practice their acquired knowledge.
Up to know, 140 pupils and 65 teachers from all over Latvia have participated in the project, covering 68 schools. The added value or sustainability of the project is provided by young people – graduates of the Debate Leader School who become mentors and transfer their experience to the new participants, inspiring them by their example and encouraging them to take advantage of the skills they have acquired.
Over the past three years since the British Council Latvia has been co-operating with the Debate Leader School, more than 30 youth mentors have grown. Mentors are erudite and active youth leaders with in-depth knowledge of debates, transferring their knowledge and helping with the support to the young debaters.
One of the tasks young people of the Leader Debate School have to do is to establish a debate club in their school or region. During these three years almost 30 debate clubs have been established covering different regions of Latvia, such as Rīga, Jelgava, Tukums, Vaiņode. While not all schools have functioning debate clubs, nearly all participating schools have integrated different learning methods acquired during the project into their learning process, such as debate as learning method and game of logic errors.
At the beginning of 2019, the young people of the Debate Leader School organised regional tournaments in Latvia’s cities – in Cēsis, Tukums, Sigulda and Rīga. Alongside these activities, selection of School Debate Team Latvia took place, with the best young Latvia’s debaters getting a chance to represent Latvia at the World School Debate Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, competing with the national teams of 70 countries.
In 2018, within the framework of the project an innovative and outstanding material for learning critical and logical thinking - the logic error board game “Populist”, available in Latvian and English, was developed. The game has gained popularity throughout Latvia – both in schools and in non-formal education classes, as it helps young people and adults learn logic and critical thinking. While the “Debate Leader School 2017/2018” was nominated from Latvia for European Charlemagne Youth Prize, a year later, in 2019, the board game “Populist” became the second “QUO Tu domā?” project also nominated for the prestigious youth prize.
The fourth phase of the project will be launched in autumn of 2019.