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

 

History of debate – question, listen, explore

From its very beginnings, debate has been inextricably intertwined with the concept of open society. In ancient Athens, citizens gathered in forums to discuss and debate the most pressing issues of the day before casting their votes. Such debates were an integral part of the new form of government Athens was to bequeath to the world: democracy.

Unlike totalitarian and other undemocratic regimes, where a limited set of ideas are imposed as absolute truths, democratic societies depend upon the free and open exchange of ideas. Indeed, it may be said that true democracy cannot exist without debate. For democracy to function, the values that debate encourages - reason, tolerance, the careful weighing of evidence, etc. - must be cherished and nurtured. But even within societies that restrict open discussion, debate can teach young people that no one person or government possesses the ultimate truth.

Today, from London to Kyrgyzstan, from The Netherlands and Belgium to South East Europe and the Middle East & North Africa, IDEA debates are gaining ground as forums for promoting democratic values. Just as Socrates spurred his listeners to examine their assumptions 2,500 years ago, IDEA is today encouraging students around the world to question, listen to each other and to explore even the most volatile subjects openly and in the spirit of tolerance and cooperation.

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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