IDEA CA prides itself in providing quality education to youth from throughout Kyrgyzstan, using innovative and interactive methods to prepare youth to become active leaders and participants in their country’s social and political discourse. Besides preparing them for active participation in society, these tools also boost self-confidence and critical thinking, important for their professional careers as well. In the past two years IDEA CA has been working hard to ensure the quality of these tools, creating curricula and assessment tools helping to create a basis for success measurement.
Debate is an excellent tool promoting critical thinking, public speaking and argumentation skills, research and language skills. IDEA CA has developed different approaches to teaching debate according to the major objectives of the project and needs of our beneficiaries. These include promoting debate through theater, using media tools to strengthen presentation and research, pure academic debate for advocacy and interactive debate training to make debate more accessible to youth from all backgrounds.
Debate and Forum Theater
In this case debate is combined with forum theater to give youth who have lived through traumatizing situations, or who are not ready to communicate with speech only, the chance to express feelings and argumentation. Youth are still taught the fundamentals of debate with special concentration on understanding and presenting different points of view, giving them access to their own thoughts and opinions on certain topics.
Debate for Marginalized Youth
As in the Debate and Forum Theater Curriculum, this training curriculum gives youth access to debate by using interactive methods to help them understand debate fundamentals such as argumentation, public speaking, rebuttal, motion building and presentation. The goal of the “Debate for Marginalized Youth” training is to build the capacity of marginalized youth in Central Asia for their increased inclusion in decision making processes, social and political discourse. The skills and knowledge taught in these sessions are often lacking in formal education being taught at school. Therefore, youth who are not encouraged and supported by their familiar background have slim chances to become involved in shaping their country’s future. Elements of this curriculum can be used for different trainings, depending on the objectives of the project, to reach out to youth who have not been engaged in informal discussions before.
Debate and Youth Entrepreneurship
For this curriculum IDEA has crystallized elements out of the pure academic debate curriculum which are essential life skills and valuable for entrepreneurs. To be able to successfully present a business plan to potential investors and, construct and maintain client relations entrepreneurs must possess certain skills enabling them to do so. These skills include presentation, argumentation, selling ideas, rhetoric and market research. IDEA CA has created a curriculum empowering youth with these skills. Furthermore, IDEA CA engages business professionals as mentors and teachers to transmit real business knowledge and experience. Youth are given real chances to use their life skills during Start-Up Weekends to which potential investors are invited.
Debate and Civil Activism
What does debate have to do with advocacy and civil activism? Quite a lot actually! Advocacy is basically arguing for a certain cause and presenting these arguments in an engaging matter in order to convince your audience. Debate teaches and trains these exact skills, often combining debate techniques with research skills, allowing participants to gather hard evidence supporting their cause.
Debate arguments should be convincing and based on facts and experiences in the real world. This is why research plays an important role while participants are preparing for their presentations. Debate is not just about rhetoric, but the audience needs to be convinced that the arguments presented are indeed supported by evidence. Therefore, research skills are an important part of IDEA CA’s training. To engage debate and research as tools that go beyond the pure academic scope, IDEA CA has imported participatory research technology from UNICEF Kosovo which has been used to engage youth in understanding community needs and presenting these needs to local self-government.
This type of research involves teaching youth how to identify needs, how to create a questionnaire to research these needs and find possible solutions. Results are analyzed and made presentable together with trainers and staff, giving participants the chance to discuss and show their findings to their communities.