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Ethnic Relations Commission
66 Peter Rose & Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel. +592-231-6479, 231-6473,
231-6281, 231-6265
Fax: +592-231-6246

May 7, 2007

PRESS RELEASE

Covent Garden Secondary, President’s College, and New Silver City Secondary moves on in ERC debating competition

“Perceptions of inequality and injustice are to blame for ethnic tensions in Guyana,” this is the moot being debated in the second round of Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) Inter-Secondary Schools Debating Competition.

President’s College, Covent Garden Secondary, and New Silver City Secondary have already moved on to the next round. Covent Garden recently defeated West Demerara Secondary School in the first debate of this round at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD). Covent Garden proposed the moot while West Demerara opposed.

In support of the moot, Covent Garden posited that there are no institutionalized policies, which allows inequality and injustice to prevail in the Guyanese society. Democracy is a mechanism which ensures that every citizen has equal rights to educational opportunities, housing and free speech. Sanctions are enforced by our judiciary if groups or individuals incite race hate, the team argued.

West Demerara focused its argument on the socio-economic stratification of the Guyanese society. Members of the team presented findings of an investigation taken from a sample of 50 Regent Street Businessmen. 85 % of the Businessmen are of Indo Guyanese Decent while, 10% are of African Guyanese decent. Based on their findings, West Demerara concluded that wealth is unevenly distributed among the races with Indo Guyanese given greater economic opportunities. This is a situation of inequality; the team argued, which creates tension among the ethnic groups.
In summing up the debate, the Chief Judge, Implementation Officer, Interactive Radio Instruction Unit said that the key word in the moot is ‘perception’ and it was ignored by both teams. Another soar point the Judge identified was that debators did too much reading instead of referring to their notes. However, they judges felt that the rebuttals were well handled.

Yeolena Callender, second speaker of Covent Garden, was adjudged the best speaker. The other members of that team were Maria Rhius, first speaker and Jenally Blackman, third speaker. West Demerara Secondary was represented by Nadeema Jhuman, Erica Burkai and Shaira Telman, first, second and third speakers, respectively.

Meanwhile, in the second debating in this round, President’s College defeated St. Roses High School in was what described a rebuttal deciding victory. During his summation of the debate, Chief Judge, Managament Consultant Mr. Terrence Simmons said that the gap between the two schools ranged from 3 to 5 points when all the judges score sheets were examined, just before the rebuttals started. He said that it was then up to the better of the two rebuttals which was going to decide the winner of the competition.

He noted that both rebuttals were weak. Debators committed the cardinal error of introducing new arguments. The Chief Judge said that debators should remember the ‘cut’ and ‘thrust’ principle preparing and presenting their rebuttal – cutting into pieces the other team’s arguments and thrusting your teams. The Chief Judge also noted that attempts to re-introduce arguments made before was another weakness in the rebuttals. The thing to do he said is to re-iterate ones team’s arguments as you undercut the argument of the opponent. He said that the debate hinged on the better of the two rebuttals which was presented by President’s College.

Neilson McKenzie, second speaker of the winning team was adjudged best speaker. The other team members from President’s College are: Ameer Delawah, first speaker and Dendra Grenville, third speaker. Rayanna Wilson, Saeed Hamid and Melissa Lynch, first and second formers, represented St. Roses High.
New Silver City Secondary defeated Kwakwani Secondary in Region ten

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