Saturday, 11 Jul, 4.15 pm Edexlive

Get ready for the ultimate debate by students on Reimagining Global Education

Even though the climate in India is such that questions are discouraged and 'agreeing to disagree' is out of the question, Rajiv Kacholia felt the need to initiate a forum that would promote the culture of debate among students. To this effect, he started Speech and Debate India in January 2020 and on July 12, 2020 they are going to conduct their first virtual National Debate Tournament on one of the most relevant topics — Reimagining Global Education. We get in touch with Rajiv, who himself has been a product of the US debating culture, to find out about all that led up to the National Debate Tournament. Let's talk it out
Rajiv, who was a two-time Debate Champion in the State of Illinois back in the day, wanted to run a national network via Speech and Debate India and launched it both virtually and physically. During pre-Corona times, he would travel back and forth between Mumbai, where he is based out of, and Delhi on the weekends to run debate programmes in Heritage Xperiential Learning School, Gurugram, Mount Litera School International, Mumbai and American School of Bombay, Mumbai. And in the beginning of March, he took things online. "Debate is not the same as an argument. Students have to respect each other's opinions and perspectives while presenting their own. Their points need to be evidence-based and backed by research. This itself teaches the youngsters so much. I wanted to give them the voice and the confidence to speak up, though respectfully, and express their opinion," says the alumni of Stanford University. And by saying this, he summed up the whole ethos behind starting Speech and Debate India.

Rajiv Kacholia | (Pic: Speech and Debate India)

Since the beginning of summer this year, the 47-year-old has been taking two-week summer intensive courses. Healthcare and disease, entrepreneurship, environment and climate change are just a few of the many topics he has engaged various batches to debate on. Next week, the course will be on technology and AI. "Each course is designed in a way that it teaches children the fundamentals of debate and the topic of discussion without them even realising," says Rajiv who shifted back to India eight years back. Over 400 students have been taught via these courses and the final showdown will happen on July 12. We are told that both the teams that have qualified for the finals have been through over 20 rounds of intense debates to get to the top. Phew!

An academy of their own
Talking about the selection of the topic Reimagining Global Education, Rajiv says that, "Kids get to debate on what schools should look like, how the education system needs to be revamped and what life skills are important in the future. The goal and the whole point of this is that kids should be able to learn essential life skills and enrich their own socio-emotional learning." He also lets us in on the big announcement we can expect on July 12. "We will launch a Debate Academy in August this year," shares Rajiv.

We hear that will take the debating culture in India on a whole new level. Think seven different quarterly courses held twice a week based on the US-style debate and curriculum. Mysteries and Courtrooms; Mumbai + Miami = Atlantis; Me, My Bran and I and many more such exciting courses await all those who are ready for a respectable battle of words. How exciting!

"Whether these kids grow up to be leaders, lawyers, businesspersons or anything else, these kids are our future. And there is a need to instill in them the right kind of thinking and the quality of appreciating and respecting another's opinion," says Rajiv. And that's his mission with Speech and Debate India.

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