Demonstration debates held in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Bosnian organisation Centar za Kulturu Dijaloga (CCD) organised three demonstration debates in October on European topics. The debates took place in Banja Luka, Mostar and Tuzla on the 31st of October and attracted students and teachers from several schools. The debates aimed to teach the basics of Karl Popper debating, to provide an introduction to building argumentation and to give participants an understanding of the differences between debating and discussions.

The first debate took place in Banja Luka on the 18th of October and here are some pictures from the debate. A total of 58 students and teachers from two schools, as well as media and government representatives saw a debate in which debaters of the Gimnazija Banja Luka debate the motion: "Education should be a priority and basic motive of BiH in European integrations." The debate was preceded by an introduction to argumentation by teacher Branka Kukić that taught the audience how to distinguish between personal opinions and arguments. The debaters were so impressive that the government representatives enthusiastically stated that debate should become one of the basic extracurricular activities and a regular subject in schools because it teaches young people critical thinking and the capacity to analyse generally accepted attitudes. 

The second debate, in Mostar on the 21st of October, attracted slightly fewer people with 27 participating students and teachers from the Srednja elektrotehnička škola Mostar. Here are some pictures of the debate. Teacher Demond Đonko gave the general introduction to debate, with an emphasis on the proper course of the debate and how to record the debate in a "flow sheet" in order to judge correctly. The audience then watched a debate on the motion that "Bosnia and Herzegovina should repeat the census by European standards" with the assignment to provide feedback to the speakers. It turned out that those who did not use the flow sheet had a harder time to do so, which motivated everyone to use the sheets. The audience did learn a few more things about how to construct arguments and about the logical fallacy of ad hominem. 

The third debate took place in Tuzla on the 31st of October with a total of 47 students and teachers from the Behram-begova medresa Tuzla. These are the pictures from that debate. Teacher Midhat Čaušević introduced the format of the 

debate, which was an adaptation of Karl Popper in order to allow as many participants as possible to voice their opinion: two speakers on each side introduced the motion: "The current profile of BiH politicians can lead us to European Union." Then moderator  Ismail Ćidić, captain of the debate team, asked the audience questions about the topic and the arguments and let them ask questions in return. After that, the discussion came back to the format, and the way to record a debate through a flow sheet to analyse the arguments. Čaušević explained the format for the debate lessons that would take place in the next semester. Ćidić convincingly promoted the debate club as a way to learn more critical thinking skills and improve grades and self-confidence.

Overall, the demonstration debates have brought debating a lot of good promotion in schools, with teachers and students alike. This will hopefully provide CCD with more chances to train debaters in the future. The demonstration debates were organised as part of the project idebateEU. This is a cooperation project of IDEA Amsterdam, IDEA London and ten IDEA members from all across Europe. The project aims to improve cooperation between IDEA and its members and between members, sharing debate methodologies and organisational knowledge in the framework of common activities on European topics. The project is made possible with support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Commission.




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