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“Give them something to talk about”

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Photo: UNDP Turkmenistan

Student debate is a culture and an art.

While a student at the American University- Central Asia in 2008-2013, I saw many of my fellow Turkmen engaging into the art of debate. For more than two years, I served as a president of the AUCA debate club while completing my Bachelor’s degree. We practiced in public speaking, critical thinking and argumentation. In2015, I joined UNDP and now can continue transferring the debating skills through the annual UN Debate Cup held among university students throughout Turkmenistan.

The third annual student debate for the Cup took place on 9 October 2015 at the Turkmen State University, bringing together over one hundred participants from five universities. Students debated in English the topic of the place of human rights in the post-2015 development agenda. Young people received the topic for the debate a week before the event and a package of materials to prepare.

Debate is relatively new format of discussion for the students in Turkmenistan and it proved to be very popular. Young people are very keen on expressing their views and opinions in a constructive and argumentative manner. Five participating universities have formed debate teams to be able to deliver effective and impressing public speeches. From now on, they will train during the year to be able to compete and win the UN Debate Cup.

Youth plays an important role in the development and implementation of the post-2015 agenda. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Turkmenistan, he stressed how youth is the future of this country. Seeing Turkmen students debate on where to place human rights among such issues as environment protection, energy conservation and sustainable farming made me very proud of my young fellow compatriots.

So the next time when you think about the youth of Turkmenistan, what will come to mind?

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