Inaugural Tobago primary schools plenary debate on June 6

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Whim Anglican teacher Wade David with a student ahead of the primary school’s plenary debate at the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough.

Eighteen primary schools from across Tobago are set to participate in an unprecedented plenary debate at the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough.

The debate scheduled for June 6 will see 23 students and 21 alternates debate a motion on the annual Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA).

Assembly Legislature communications officer Aviana Alleyne told Newsday that the excitement is heightening.

“We’re elated that at a young age, the students are being exposed to a healthy debating culture among peers, critical thinking, networking, public speaking, legislative history and democracy, which they can apply to their everyday life and studies in going forward.”

Alleyne said the primary schools debate was conceptualised by presiding officer Abby Taylor.

“She believes that democracy should be taught at a young age. Her mandate is to engage and educate at all levels.”

Alleyne added: “It is also the first school to debate under the People’s House, which is an avenue for the public to petition to the House, issues that are important to them that they would like to see debated.”

The training of students, she said, took approximately one month with briefings on house procedures, public speaking, dress code, etiquette and various debating techniques.

Hope Anglican Primary School principal Isabel Burris-Paul said her students are very excited.”We all, especially the students, welcome this opportunity to take part in this debate; because as students, they sometimes think their voices are not heard – and they have very strong feelings about this SEA examination,” she said.

Whim Anglican Primary School teacher Wade David said this debate will equip the students with skills they can use for life. “It also teaches them emotional intelligence to handle disagreements with respect,” he said.

The debate will begin at 10am and members of the public are free to join in person or virtual.