This program encourages the use of debate in Romanian schools. The aim of the program is for more and more young people to use debate to exercise critical thinking and develop civic competences.
Civic education is one of the key elements of becoming active citizens, involved in the improvement of communities and of society as a whole. Unfortunately, the way civic education is discussed and taught is, many times, dry and unappealing.
There is a series of studies showing that practical experience is a strong educational tool; debate is one of the most efficient methods used in civic education.
In Romania, debate came up in the mid-90s and grew as a non-formal education program implemented by ARDOR: debate clubs expanded to university students, high schools and especially top-grade schools in big cities. There are now 88 permanent debate clubs, attended by more than 100 trainers and educators and about 1,500 young people every year.
Since 2009, the Ministry of Education has been paying more attention to this topic and the programs reached a wider audience, including technological high schools, or high schools in smaller cities. Following a partnership between ARDOR and the Ministry, a national school debate competition has been in place since 2010 – the National “Youth Debate” Competition. Every year, more than 200 teachers and 600 students participate in this program. The optional curriculum for high schools introduced a Debate, Oratory and Rhetoric class in 2011.
In 2014, RAF was invited to join ARDOR, the network of partners and the Ministry in supporting the expansion of the debate program in schools.
The program includes:
- Increasing the capacity of the Debate Club network to support itself financially.
- Developing the National “Youth Debate” program and local debate competitions.
- Training for teachers and expansion of the Debate, Oratory and Rhetoric class.
- Expanding the use of debate as an educational tool for various subjects by setting up a first set of model lessons to be used in debate.