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Steady growth of debate in Central Asia
Submitted by Vanitha Nadaraj on 30 July 2012
The education system in Tajikistan is still undergoing transformation from the Soviet approach which focused on memorization and not encourage critique and research, according to a young debate trainer.
Sherzod Abdujabborov says that debate skills are especially important in Tajikistan because it is a powerful didactic educational tool that can develop crucial skills such as critical thinking and researching.
“Currently, debate in Tajikistan is not widely spread. There are youth that have debated or know about it in every region of the country, but there are only a few fully functioning clubs and centres,” says the head trainer of the Dushanbe Debate Center who also a debater and debate trainer.
“This is exacerbated by local education departments that insist on educational institutions getting official permission or approval to allow associations to operate.”
This has not deterred Tajik debaters.
They hold championships and frequently meet to engage in their favorite free time activity, says Abdujabborov.
He adds: “Thanks to IDEA Central Asia the debate movement in Tajikistan has caught its second wind. In the past year, over 40 young debaters participated in numerous training sessions and championships.”
He says that this experience has inspired them to actively promote debates among their peers.
“Some of them run their own clubs and train newcomers,” says Abdujabborov.
Support from IDEA
“With continued support from IDEA CA I am confident that eventually the debate movement will grow into a sustainable and independent practice in my country. Central Asian Debaters have all chances to join the club of the eminent debaters of the world,” he adds.
Nurlan Abdaliev also feels that IDEA Central Asia has an impact on the development of debate in the region.
“Since IDEA CA office began its activity in a region, it refreshed debate movement,” says Abdaliev who started debating since 1998 and is now a debate trainer.
“Debate is a necessary program because it works with the most active part of population - youth.
“Soros Foundation launched a debate program in 1996-1997 and now we have positive results. Most of debaters now successful professionals. They work for commercial companies, government, international organizations,” he says.
He sees debate as a way of helping young people in the Central Asia region unite and create a generation that can bring the values of democracy, open society and dialogue to the region.
Abdaliev says one of the key areas of improvement is to build the quality of high-school debate.
“Last year we decided to assign some active debaters to work with certain high-schools and this is starting to show some progress. My personal plans are to work with high-school debate program,” says Abdaliev, who plans to launch radio-debates project through National Radio.
Already he is seeing results from the first debate and media camps conducted in English and Russian for Central Asian youth, that were organized by IDEA last year.
“Sabyrbek Jeentaev is now the president of debate crew of American University of Central Asia while Talant Smailov is a coordinator of a debate community in Bishkek. Tajik participants from the Russian camp have established a stable debate community in Dushanbe.
“And Pairav Saidov from Kulyab in Tajikistan, took part in the International Debate Training for trainers of CA.
“Participants from Uzbekistan, Timur Abidov and Gulnara Kadyrova, also participated in International Debate Training for trainers of CA,” he adds.
Both Abdujabborov and Abdaliev are debate trainers at the Youth in the 21st Century: Debating and Producing Media camp for 2012 held in Issyk-kul from July 19-31.
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