Our Vision

Empowering young people worldwide today to be the active citizens of tomorrow.

Our Mission

To give young people a voice through education, debate and by raising their awareness about worldwide issues. 

We are international. 

We help run debating activities in over 50 languages in more than 50 countries, and we are continuing to grow, striving constantly to improve the quality and quantity of our services.

Our first office in opened in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 1999 followed by the United States in 2001 and the United Kingdom, with offices in London. In 2012 we opened offices in the Western Balkans ( Skopje, Macedonia).

We expanded the IDEA Network to new regions in 2013, opening our first office in Central Asia  (Bishkek,Kyrgyzstan) with debate education programmes in Russian and local languages, co-organizing events, talking on air and debating on TV. 

Our newest regional office opened in the Middle East and North Africa (Tunis, Tunisia) in 2014, providing activities in Arabic for 19 countries across the Middle East North Africa region.

'Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate’
Hubert H Humphrey


Tournaments vary in size from small local competitions, which might take place after school, to large international tournaments, which can attract hundreds of debaters and coaches. Many IDEA member associations hold annual national tournaments for schools from the whole country, regional tournaments for schools from a given region and small local tournaments within communities.

Who do we work with?

IDEA works with partners, sponsors and member associations that want to organize international tournaments, which are normally held at campsites or inexpensive conference centers. IDEA and its partners and members promote education and not competition; it is this philosophy that defines the goals and objectives of IDEA’s debate tournaments.

What do debate tournaments consist of?

Debate tournaments consist of a set of preliminary debates, a ‘round’, in which all teams participate. In this preliminary stage, teams debate each side of the topic in alternating rounds: a team that is affirmative in the first round will be negative in the second. The first round of a debate tournament normally pairs teams randomly. After the first round, teams are paired based on how well they have performed. With this system of pairing, tournaments ensure that teams encounter others at the same level.

After the preliminary rounds are complete, the teams with the best records proceed to an elimination stage. The goal of the elimination rounds is to have the top teams debating in the final round.

What is the role of a judge in tournaments?

Tournaments involve a number of volunteers acting as judges, whose responsibility is to offer feedback to the teams and to decide who wins the debate. In major international university tournaments, judges are often very experienced debaters from universities around the world. In IDEA tournaments, judges are recruited from the local community and may include teachers or coaches of teams in the event, as well as parents, university students or other volunteers. Tournament organizers will provide judges with all the training they should need to evaluate a debate; judges are not expected to be experts either in debate or in the topic being debated.

The 5th IDEA International Aitmatov Debate Academy

We want to ensure the quality of our debate programmes. We can by providing extensive training in how to debate for many different groups. We have modules that include training in debate, interactive teaching methodologies, public communications, advocacy and conflict resolution, new media and debate.

Most of our training sessions are designed for groups of 25 or fewer. Ideal candidates include secondary school and university teachers, students, youth workers and representatives of non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.

We encourage a learning environment that is built on participation, where individuals feel safe to explore ideas and view topics from a variety of perspectives. Participant-centered teaching methodologies emphasising personal exploration, role-play and group exercises are employed to maximize trainees’ involvement in the learning process; it leads to more meaningful engagement.

Our methodology is based on Action Learning – a bottom up approach that draws on the knowledge in the room. It is designed for engaging young people who are new to debate from as young as 14 and up to 30 years old and allows them to take ownership of their learning process. Trainees learn how to extract the knowledge in the room and how to channel it. This creates a healthy group dynamic and empowers youth to address the issues they are interested in and understand.

We train trainers to use what young people know (the knowledge in the room) and then help them improve in how to say it’ – IDEA trainer.

IDEA’s trainers come from, and train, different societal groups: debate societies, youth centres, educational organisations, schools or universities. They can be students, youth and welfare workers or teachers, and are IDEA’s link to young people because they know and trust them.

Participants on IDEA training holding the IDEA logo

When working with disadvantaged youth, the element of trust is very important. Before they are ready to talk about the issues they have, they must first feel confident and safe in their environment and be able to reflect on why they have the problem.’ – IDEA trainer.     

IDEA trainers pay special attention to ensuring that training is adapted specifically to meet the linguistic, educational and cultural needs of the participants. Whenever possible, IDEA strives to deliver the training in the local language of the trainees, using materials and modules most relevant to the participants. There is no one size fits all. The programme includes exercises and activities that trainers can adapt and tailor to meet the needs of the group. From a 1-day training workshop up to trainings over several days, the debate activities and exercises are all easily adaptable to their own trainees’ level of knowledge and confidence. In each case, trainers get ideas and learn new debate skills that they can use based on their own personal experiences.

Are you looking for fundraising ideas? Are you interested in how debate and debate education is empowering young people with a voice? Would you like to help marginalised young people participate in society?

As a charity, we're supported entirely by donations.   Through our strong partnerships and sponsorships, we’re able to reach out to young people living in marginalized communities and bring them valuable life-learning skills in critical thinking, active listening and argumentation in order to participate more actively in society and advocacy and make change happen. 

Get involved

We want to create more educational resources, run more Training of Trainers events and organize more international debate events.  

We want more young people to develop self-confidence and learn to speak up and express themselves. 

We want to enhance intercultural exchange and build bridges to strengthen communities and promote mutual understanding. 

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