Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WSDC 2014: Additional Debater Sought for Team Indonesia

Coaches of Team Indonesia are looking for an additional member for the 2014 World Schools Debating Championship squad who can debate for at least one more year. All of the top candidates for this year's Team Indonesia will graduate before the Bangkok WSDC 2014, which will take place this August, and start their university lives a few days after the competition, making them ineligible for WSDC 2015.

Suggestions to the ministry to consider underclassmen or students outside the mainstream national education system for the WSDC team selection are nothing new but they usually hit the bureaucratic wall. This year, coaches M. Subarkah Syafruddin and Riza Aryani, who are both former Universitas Indonesia debaters, managed to convince the ministry to think out of the box. The government will allow a fifth member for the team without demanding endorsement from his/her school or provincial education office. The other four should come from the existing system. 

For the last decade, WSDC selections in Indonesia are highly bureaucratic. Only students nominated by their schools can enter regional selections that prioritize state-run institutions. This system discourages private and international school students who may have better level of English than the general student population.

Furthermore, WSDC coaches can only choose from teams representing provinces that compete in the National Schools Debating Championships. If a star debater is overlooked by provincial selectors, WSDC coaches cannot take the person regardless of his/her stellar performance. Schools and provincial selectors tend to also overlook underclassmen and prioritize upperclassmen. Some exceptional juniors often need to wait until their seniors get their turn before teachers select them to represent the school in regional selections.

Indonesia last broke in WSDC in 2004, using the same team that reached the octofinals of WSDC 2003. The ministry allowed it due to the close gap between the two tournaments that made it difficult to create a nationwide search from scratch. All members of Team Indonesia 2003 and 2004 came from private schools in or around capital Jakarta. They could join the WSDC selection because organizers had the power to ask their schools to compete in the 2002 national debate tournament, in which a team from the ultra-expensive, English-language Sekolah Pelita Harapan became champion although it was not invited for the earlier provincial selection.

That fact triggered flak from some bureaucrats who complained about the lack of representatives from state schools in Team Indonesia. They demanded guaranteed seats for those taking public education. Unfortunately, that translated into the current system that tends to sideline exclusive schools. There are no more invitations to exceptional private schools. Achievements in 2003 and 2004 backfired against the institutions that produced the successful debaters.

The current search for the fifth member opens the chance for underclassmen from state schools and private English-language institutions to enter the team. There is a caveat, though. The ministry will allow it but won't pay the registration fee and transport expenses of the additional debater. The selected student must be ready to cover the cost that can reach up to $1500. Coaches will try to find external financing to subsidize this but there is no guarantee. For those who are unnerved by this condition, they should register before May 10 to muhammadsubarkah@gmail.com. Indeed, the chosen one must commit to intensive training ahead of the August 5-15 tournament.

Other requirements are as follows:
-10th or 11th grade student of a school based in Indonesia  before July 2014  
-Will not commence university education before August 2015
-Upload two debate videos (one as prime minister and the other as whip).
For more details, read the official letter about this selection here.

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