Seaside debate marks end of British Council’s Young Arab Voices programme

Reham El-Adawi , Friday 29 Jun 2018

courtesy of the British Council Media Office

On 24 June, a seaside debate held at a camp in Alexandria for 150 scouts marked the end of the British Council’s Young Arab Voices project and its transformation into a new programme called Young Mediterranean Voices.

The debate was held at the end of a four-day camp dedicated to teaching debating skills, which was run by the Young Arab Voices programme in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The seaside garden location was chosen to represent the programme’s philosophy that debating skills can be used in any setting, and to mark the programme’s transition into a project that will link up with countries from the European Union.

The camp, which ran from 20 to 23 June, is the second large gathering of scouts in Alexandria, and the first time it has been entirely dedicated to debating.

Six parallel training sessions were led by six debate trainers, with two master trainers monitoring and evaluating – plus a further 11 co-trainers from Cairo University.

For seven years Young Arab Voices was mainly supported by the British Council through partnerships with other international entities such as the Anna Lindh Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office Arab Partnership Fund.

The British Council, in partnership with the Anna Lindh Foundation, which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary in Egypt, will continue its debating programmes under the name Young Mediterranean Voices, a new project supported by the European Union.

General Director of Voluntary and Scout Programmes at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Gehan Hanafy said that “the debate programme has a significant and clear effect on scouts in their understanding of the concept of debating."

"It also instils in them the concept of having different opinions, impartiality and not clinging to their opinions, along with educating them in terms of research and how to build a correct point of view," Hanafy said.

"All of this is reflected in the enthusiasm of the scouts for the continuation of such a programme and their request to have it implemented in all governorates. Hence, the ministry appreciates the efforts of the British Council [and its contribution] towards all this positive impact, which has worked to raise the [scouts' debating skills].”

The project has directly engaged 10,000 young people aged 18 to 35 in 16 different governorates.

The first event for the new project will take place in July when a group of debate trainers will be chosen to pursue the programme in 12 different hubs across Egypt’s governorates.

The British Council in Egypt's Acting Country Director Alex Lambert said that “young Arab Voices has made a great name for itself in Egypt, but we’re excited about this new direction and the new links that it will forge with countries in Europe.”

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