How to Write a Debate

This page was first published on the 28th of November, 2016 and last updated on the 3rd of May, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.

debate photoThe word “debate” comes from “de”, possibly meaning “down” or “completely”, and “battiere,” possibly meaning “fight” or “beat.” Words of similar root may include “battered” and “battle.”

A debate, in modern usage, and for the purpose of this article, is a formal argument between two groups which is performed in front of an audience. These two groups are usually two teams in a school, or two different teams from two different schools, regions, etc.

Debates are included as part of a school’s curricula to stimulate research and excitement, which ultimately contribute to learning. Because winning a debate often leads to a sense of accomplishment, glory, trophies and prizes, both sides push themselves to the limit to take home the gold.

A debate team of a school may consist of three speakers: a first speaker, a second speaker and a third speaker, and one backup speaker, who stands by in case one of the three speakers is not well and falls out of the program.

When the debate is performed, it is usually done in front of an audience of students in the school’s auditorium. There is a panel of judges and a group of timekeepers, who make sure the debaters use the specific time allotted to each of them. And this brings us to the “timings of a debate.”

When writing a debate, it must be practiced and confirmed that each debater can complete their speeches within the allotted time frame. And this brings us to:

The Time Allocation of Each Debater


The time allocation of each debater is as follows:

First Speaker – 6 minutes

Second Speaker – 5 minutes

Third Speaker – 3 minutes

The debaters must rehearse to make sure that each one of them completes their speech comfortably within the allotted time. This takes a lot of practice and rehearsals, and must be perfected. A debater loses points for finishing more than 15 seconds before the allotted time, or 15 seconds after the allotted time. During each presentation, the debater must speak fluently, use gestures, accentuate key words, and maintain a good posture. And this brings us to the parameters for judging a debate.

The Parameters for Judging a Debate


A debate is often such a fierce competition between two rivals that many people declare that they would “not like to be a judge”. However, judges can keep a level head and make unbiased assessments by using the following judging parameters:

Development of points 15

Reasoning and logic 15

Originality 10

Relevance 10

Mechanics 15

Articulation 5

Poise 5

Attitude to opponent 5

Development of argument 10

Cohesion 5

Interpretation of topic (moot) 5

Rebuttal 20


Below is a debate that was performed by two Caribbean Schools. The moot:

The Agricultural Sector is the Gateway to Guyana’s Future

St. Ignatius Secondary proposed the moot. In other words, they were arguing in favor of the moot.  They were called the “proposition”.

Sandcreek Secondary opposed the moot. They were called the opposing team.

Read the debate presentation of each one of them. Who do you think won? Leave your comment in the comment box and let us know!

What other comments or suggestion do you have? How could the debate of each one be better? Leave your comment and let us know your thoughts.

Note the following:

In any debate, a moot must be “defined”. A moot must also be “interpreted.”

St. Ignatius Secondary’s Debate

The Agricultural Sector is the Gateway to Guyana’s future


First Speaker:

Esteemed judges, adamant opponents, fellow colleagues of the proposition, audience all. Our belief today is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that “The Agricultural Sector is the gateway to Guyana’s Future” And in the next few minutes, we will explain our viewpoint to you in such a clear and straightforward manner, that you will have no option but to believe. You will believe because you will realize that everything we are saying is absolutely true.

First of all, I will do the honors of explaining our moot.

The word agriculture is derived from two Latin words and I quote ager = which means field, and cultura, which means cultivation *end of quote*

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the word Agriculture is defined as, and I quote* “the practice or science of farming” *end of quote*

Sector, in this context, refers to *quote* all resources dedicated to agriculture. *unquote*

Gateway, signifies the way to economic success and prosperity for Guyana.

Future means any time beyond the present, and, in this case, implies success and prosperity in those times.

For the purpose of this debate, we interpret the moot to mean, and I quote *The Agricultural Sector will lead to a vibrant and powerful economy, technological and social advancement, and a strong financial future for Guyana.* unquote

I, Ave Tony, will give an overview of the merits of Agriculture as it applies to Guyana. My second speaker, Nikala D.’Aguillar, will dive in and explore the various agricultural prospects, and my third speaker, Ayesha King, will summarize the points of our argument.

Honorable judges, you will agree with me that Guyana has a rich agricultural heritage. The initial explosive success of this great nation was grounded in agricultural practices. It is our rich, fertile soil that brought financial power to the land of many waters. It was the explosive success of sugar, rice, tomatoes, pepper, cabbages, and the myriads of other cash crops that marked our country on the world map.

Hundreds of years ago, Europeans travelling to the land of many waters in search of a golden city found something better. They found our soil. And they realized there and then, that our soil is gold. A message was sent back to the then queen of England, who immediately consented to starting an Agricultural operation which lasts to this very day and created untold wealth for centuries to come. This is the story of Guyana’s birth as a civilized nation. This is the story of Guyana’s famed sugar plantations, which harnessed the power of Guyana’s fertile soil, and which still accounts for about 15% of Guyana’s Gross National Product.

But it doesn’t stop there, rice was next. This too was a phenomenal success which created billions of dollars in foreign revenue for decades to come, and helped earn Guyana the respect of its friends and neighbors.

Combine that with the acres and acres of cash crop production which bloomed into existence, and we soon earned the title “the bread basket of the Caribbean.”

On the other side of the map, our indigenous peoples, the Amerindians, have mastered the art of cassava, plantain, peanuts and bananas cultivation, which have further enriched and nourished our nation.

Sadly, it seems today that we have forgotten our roots, vines and branches. Progress in the Agricultural Sector has slowed to a virtual standstill. Excessive imports, combined with a blatant lack of investment into Guyana’s very foundation, have weakened our economy almost to a point of no return. The very sector that once brought so much wealth, pride and prestige to this great nation has now been overrun by groundless practices.

Consequently, our economy has plummeted, our dollar has nosedived to an all-time low, and our people are left groping at straws. Isn’t it time we start spinning those straws into gold?

Honorable judges, by the end of our presentation, my team and I will convince you that our soil gives us the ability to spin straws into gold, and that the Agricultural Sector really is the gateway to Guyana’s future.

We will explain how expanding our agricultural sector and exploiting our agricultural resources will open doors and windows to economic prosperity and a brighter future for all Guyanese.

We will explain how agriculture will help preserve and amplify our mineral resources, and empower our government to do greater things for our nation.

We will show you, through real life examples and proven statistics how agriculture makes nations rich and powerful by highlighting some of the greatest agricultural success stories of all time. And more importantly, we will convince you, that we should not, at any cost, be left behind.

When we extend agricultural operations across Guyana, we will provide jobs for the citizens of this country.  The nuclear family will more frequently hold its bonds. Parents will be better able to send their children to school, and the government will be able to supply more needs. By farming on a much larger scale, we will be able to slash productions costs down to the bone, and export to foreign countries. The revenues that will be made from these increased agricultural productions will strengthen Guyana in all areas. By stepping up agriculture in Guyana, we will produce healthier citizens through increased physical activity and more nutritious foods.

Extensive agricultural productions will win the war against malnourishment, not just for Guyana, but for the world. The low carbon emissions of agricultural operations make it the environmentalist’s dream.

Our vast, rich pastures and abundant land spaces make sheep, cattle and other animal farming an investor’s paradise.

Let us remember that a dramatic increase in agricultural productions will mean greater revenues for the country. It will mean richer and more capable citizens. It will mean lower cost of living. It will also mean higher spending powers to us as a nation. And all of this ultimately spells healthier, happier and more productive citizens.

According to information received from the Ministry of Agriculture, we as a nation have not tapped even 1/10th of our Agricultural capabilities. What are we waiting for? To be overrun by smarter nations? No. It is time to put on our thinking caps. It is time to realize that the agricultural sector will bring in the foreign exchange that will strengthen Guyana’s economy. It is Agriculture that will help us to fund our schools and universities, which in turn will contribute to the rise of our nation.

We must once again recognize the gold that we now trample under our feet. We must revive the agricultural sector and bring golden opportunities to the deserving citizens of this great nation.




I stand as the second speaker in full support of the moot “The Agricultural sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future”.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the world’s most powerful economies: USA, France, China, Australia, Canada and Germany are all among the top ten Agricultural producers.

By investing in our agricultural sector, we will increase our exports and earn much needed foreign revenues, thereby increasing our nation’s spending power and ability to do business with the world at large.

Increased agricultural activities will help to lower our cost of living. Since we will be producing more locally, the government will be able to pay public servants more, our currency will be strengthened and local traders will be able to offer goods at cheaper prices.

I would like to point out why Agriculture is the way to go for Guyana’s development by examining the most obvious alternative: industrialization. We’ve all read articles and heard speeches by economists who suggest that industrialization holds the key to a stronger economy in Guyana. But we’d like to explain that wider agricultural practices need to precede industrialization. Under the present circumstances, the importation of heavy-duty industrial machineries which costs exorbitant sums of money would put such a dent in Guyana’s financial reserves, that it would cripple our country’s economy. On top of that, we do not have mechanism in place to combat the growing problem of pollution which would arise from a premature bloom of industrial activities, or the skilled labor required for such an industrialized environment. Instead, let on focus on our strong points: an abundant labor force, rich fertile soil, and a ready international market waiting to scramble our produce.

Agriculture will pave the way for, and strengthen the process of, industrialization in Guyana. The revenue from our agricultural exports would enable us to gear ourselves for advancement in the industrial and manufacturing sector. It would also empower us to educate and create capable citizens – able to pave the way for much needed industrialization. And more than that, we would have in our possession an abundance of raw materials needed to produce value-added products, when that time comes. It is agriculture that will pave the way for value added products, encourage modern packaging and breed innovation.

Agriculture will help preserve and amplify our precious non-renewable resources.

With increased agricultural activities and increased revenue, we will no longer have the need to bleed our nation of its precious mineral wealth. Instead, we will wait for the right market prices and take advantage of it. On top of that, with help from the Agricultural sector, we will be able to put our revenues from mineral resources to much better use.

Agriculture will demolish unemployment and discourage criminal activities. It is a sad fact that unemployment in Guyana is at an all-time high. A Caribbean Development Bank Report states that Youth Unemployment in Guyana stands at 40% as of January, 2016. A study conducted by several leading universities, including the Ohio State University, have concluded a direct link between unemployment and crime. Extensive agricultural activities will give youths the ability to use their muscles wisely. It will give them something to dream about, aim for and work towards. All in all, Agriculture will enrich the lives of our citizens, and create higher social values.


Agriculture will strengthen our citizens physically through increased physical activities. According to the World Health Organization Report, one of the greatest risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer is and I quote “lack of physical activity”.  And what is a risk factor for good health? You guessed it: agriculture.

Agriculture will hold families together by creating more jobs, money and happiness. Families will be able to achieve their dreams, and rely on each other for financial, physical and emotional support.

Agriculture will fund education across Guyana. This will lead to healthier and happier students, better learning environments and more equipped human resources for Guyana.

Honorable judges, esteemed opponents, audience, all, to sum all of what I have just said in simple words that even a child can understand: The Agricultural Sector is the Gateway to Guyana’s Future.

Third Speaker:


Honorable judges, members of the opposition, audience, all…. I am delighted to recap what my preceding team members have so energetically propounded. And that is:

Our soil is rich and fertile and highly suitable to agricultural practices.

Guyana possesses a strong, capable and ready labour force, able to supply the needs of extensive agricultural projects.

There is a hungry international market looking to purchase high quality agricultural produce at reasonable prices.

Agricultural projects are not only highly profitable, but also are low-carbon emission and therefore friendly to the environment.

Increased agricultural productions will strengthen our economy by cutting imports and increasing exports.

Increased Agricultural productions will lower the cost of living.

Agriculture is superior to industrialization at Guyana’s present stage of development.

Agriculture will pave the way for, and strengthen the process of, industrialization in Guyana.

Agriculture will pave the way for value added products, encourage modern packaging and breed innovation.

Extensive agricultural operations will demolish unemployment.

Increased agricultural operations will help us win the fight against malnourishment by providing us with a surplus of fresh, natural foods rich in vitamins.

Agriculture will help preserve and amplify our precious non-renewable resources.

Greater investments into the Agricultural sector will help to reduce crime and criminal activities

Increase and accelerating agricultural activities across Guyana will strengthen our citizens physically through increased physical activities.

More agricultural opportunities will hold families together by creating more jobs, money and happiness.

The income from extensive agricultural productions will fund education across Guyana.

Extending agricultural activities will lead to healthier and happier citizens of Guyana.

The income from Agricultural exports will finance better learning environments and enhance and equip Guyana’s most precious resource: its human resources.

Agriculture will provide occupation for the youths and citizens in general.

The most successful world economies are the highest agricultural producers.

Furthermore, there is a growing food shortage around the globe, and by equipping our nation, we can fulfill this crucial need for the world and become richer than our wildest dreams. We will also gain the respect of the international community for our wisdom, strength and innovation.

Honorable judges, members of the opposition, colleagues of the proposition, audience all, thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our viewpoints which we so dearly cherish. We are sure that by now you see eye-to-eye with us through our crystal clear lens and that you now totally agree with us that, as we stated from the very start, “The Agricultural Sector is the gateway to Guyana’s Future”


Sandcreek Secondary’s Debate

First Speaker

Distinguished judges, accurate time keeper, fellow debaters, and audience all, I Sabrina Cyril stand to refute the moot that ‘The Agriculture sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future”. I shall be begin our argument by explaining how gold, at present, is more crucial to Guyana’s growth than agriculture. Our second speaker …..will continue our argument with her findings on how the oil sector will have the greatest impact on Guyana’s future. Our third speaker, Loree Edwin, shall conclude our argument by explaining how the sugar industry is a burden to Guyana’s future and how education is the true gateway to a  prosperous future for Guyana.

Before I go on, let me first restate the moot and define a few key terms to ensure we all have a definite understanding of the argument.

The moot reads “The Agricultural sector is the gateway to Guyana’ future”.

“Agriculture” – Can be defined as: the rearing of animals and the cultivation of crops.

“Sector” can be defined as: a single section of industry that contributes to a country’s GDP

“Gateway”, defined by the Cambridge Complete Dictionary is “A way of achieving something”.

“The” a small but operative work in this argument refers to only and solely.

This indicates that is is the proposition’s belief that Guyana’s future is solely reliant on the performance of the agriculture sector.

The moot now reads, “The Section of Industry that Comprises the Rearing of Livestock and Cultivation of Crops is THE Only Path to Achieving Something in Guyana in Time to Come.”

It should also be noted that the use of “gateway” with its definition allows us to derive that the moot entails that the “agriculture sector is one and only gateway” to a future that sees success in achieving its goals. This is the point which we will refute.

Gold is the element on which most global monetary systems are based. The price of this infamous metal is, time and time again, used as the true indicator of a country’s growth, banking reserves and wealth. With such prowess it is obvious that such a mineral can be of influence in Guyana, especially when you consider how abundant it is throughout the nation and its high demand worldwide.

In recent years, the number of gold mines has been on the rise. Why? It’s because gold is proving to be an extremely profitable industry. Communities across Guyana are becoming reliant on the gold industry to fuel its economy, for example; A BBC report found that “Port Kaituma’s reliance on mining is replicated across Guyana – gold accounts for nearly half of the country’s’ total exports, which were some $218m (USD) in the first quarter of 2011”. This is compounded by the government’s budget highlights for this year, which show the Mining and quarrying sector grew by 9 percent with gold exports growing by 16.4 percent this financial year.

So mining is a growing industry, that already accounts for more than half of Guyana’s exports! Can you not see how gold is already proving a gateway to Guyana’s future? It provides job and prosperity when so many other sectors are faltering. In 2010; Sugar, rice and timber combined contributed 34.4% to the value of Guyana’s exports, whereas Gold by itself totaled 37.6%. This figure will rise to 50% if we include other minerals such as bauxite and diamond. These figures are all provided courtesy of the Guyana Geology & Mines Commission working in partnership with both the Bank of Guyana and the Bureau of Statistics in Guyana. And I must say, the findings are convincing, are they not?

It is only fair for us to also address the negatives surrounding the mining of this precious metal; that using some current methods, some deforestation has unfortunately taken place. Yes, this is a consequence of gold mining, but the majority is due to reckless, profit driven decisions by corporations. However, with greater state involvement and regulation, this can be rectified, resulting in a sustainable, growing and most importantly, a profitable industry that will continue to pave the gateway to Guyana’s future.

In  summary, gold is already a huge part of Guyana’s present, and with its proven year on year growth, it will  b an even bigger part of its future. Gateway, again, means “a way of achieving something” and the gold sector is unquestionably already achieving something as it shapes Guyana’s future with economic improvements, job creation and strengthening international trade.

So it an be argued that the Agriculture Sector is not THE gateway; it can be considered A gateway.

Thank you for your attention.


Second Speaker

Honorable judges, trustworthy timekeeper, fellow debaters and my captive audience, a pleasant good morning to you. My name is ___________ and I will continue our argument that “The Agricultural sector is NOT the gateway to Guyana’s future”, due to the economic power of Guyana’s plentiful supply of oil.

You heard from our first speaker about the success the mining industry is experiencing in this mineral rich nation. Now, let me open your eyes to the true wealth of resource that our rich and vibrant land has at the near reach of its fingertips: OIL.

Current estimations by various professional sources all agree that Guyana has an undeniably huge reserve of oil, up to 1.4 BILLION barrels of petroleum. This figure is just for the wells that we have already identified around Guyana, and there are many more that are anticipated due to geological findings and continued research.

Even off-shore, Guyana contains this treasure waiting to be tapped. In a report by the US Geological Survey it is stated that, and I quote “the Guyana-Suriname Basin has the second largest unexplored oil potential in the world after Greenland. End of quote. Coupled with the fact that in 2015, a brand new off-shore reserve was discovered, showing that Guyana has both on and off-shore potential. Exxon has been allotted a total area of 26,806 square kilometers of water off-shore for exploration, making the economic future of Guyana very promising indeed.

In August of this year, Ralph Ramkarran, a prominent Guyanese told Stabroek News how the true value of Guyana’s oil could turn around its economy. I quote:

“If Guyana’s production is in the vicinity of 500,000 barrels a day, as it should be, at a value of about 80 US Dollars per barrel, this will bring in 14.6 Billion US Dollars of which Guyana’s take at the usual 40 percent will be 5.5 billion US Dollars a year”. End of Quote.

“With increasing exploration activities, if anything close to the lower figure of 15 billion barrels are discovered, for most Guyanese the future would be beyond contemplation. With reserves of only between 800 million and 1.4 billion barrels, poverty would be diminished in a short period and Guyana per capita income of 3600 US dollars would rise rapidly.” How much you ask? I quote from the end of this report “Guyana’s per capita will move to about 14000 US dollars in the early 2020s” purely on the back of the oil production profits and its taxation.

With that in mind, how can you possibly argue, my dear proposition, that the Agricultural Sector is THE gateway to Guyana’s future, when oil has unequivocally the greatest potential impact on the economy? Even if the full reserves aren’t tapped, the effects on Guyana’s economy will be tremendous.No other resource of sector can multiply GDP four fold by the end of this decade, as oil alone can.

Our government is wisely, taking its time in deciding on its course of action for the potential wealth it sits upon because its use will shape the next century of Guyana’s history. It is likely that when the oil revenues are re-invested that it shall be oil- which will in fact be the gateway for the success of agriculture as this will provide the funds Guyana desperately needs to upgrade the sector.

My dear proposition, to claim that “The Agricultural Sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future” is ludicrous especially after listening to me and our first speaker. Gold mining is a growing industry that is increasingly profitable. Guyana’s agriculture sector is neither of these. Oil will raise Guyana to be one of the wealthiest nations in South America and the Caribbean, white its reliance on the agriculture sector will not. Now members of the proposition, do you really believe that “the Agricultural Sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future?” I really don’t think so.

The Agriculture sector may have the potential of being the gateway, but as of now, it is simply not!

I rest my case.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.


Third Speaker

You give a man a fish and you feed him for the day, You teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for the rest of his life.

My name is Loreen Edwin. I stand here to conclude our argument that “the Agricultural Sector is NOT “THE gateway to Guyana’s future”. The first speaker went at great length to show you how the gold and mining industries are having a significant impact on Guyana’s future. The second speaker explained the impact oil will have on Guyana’s future. They have provided you with solid evidence, don’t you agree?
So how can you honestly say that the agricultural sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future? Perhaps it could be Guyana’s future demise. Agriculture was indeed once Guyana’s champion of economics and growth, back when its sugar and rice production was cheap enough to compete with the international markets. But now, due to alack of reinvestment and neglect of assets, the industry is in disrepair and year on year out it has resulted in a decreased output and falling profitability on a very sad level.

It’s not me just saying this, an article by Kaieteur News on the 11th of this month stated that, and I quote “The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) cannot be sustained. The estimated operating losses are more than $10B annually. $10 Billion down the pan! My dear proposition, you are trying to convince us that is what the gateway to Guyana’s future looks like? Dr. Clive Thomas, chairman of GuySuCo, who in a Kaieteur News report on the 11th of his very month, stated and I quote “the assets of the industry are “rundown”. Dr. Clive also notes that it would cost the state over US$60M or $12B Guyana dollars) to repair the infamous 200m dollar Skeldon factory alone.

This year alone, the industry had to be given 11b dollars. It is projected that this will continue with 18b to 20b needed as bailouts JUST to keep the business afloat and ensure its workers are paid. So esteemed proposition, how can you say that “the Agricultural Sector is the gateway to Guyana’s future when its primary pillar, sugar, is crumbling to the extent of collapse?

Now, do you know what the most important resource of any nation is? It’s people; human resource. This brings me back to my opening statement: that successfully educating a person, results in the empowerment of that person. You teach that individual and they learn to be self-reliant, to be independent, to be resourceful. Knowledge is power. Education is power. And education builds a nation.

It goes without question that the education sector is significant to Guyana’s future. How can Guyana move forward if its populace is uneducated? The importance off education is reflected in the 2016 national budget where 40 Billion dollars was allocated to the education sector alone; whereas a mere 20 Billion was allocated to the agricultural sector. Improving education improves the capabilities of the future generation. With a richer knowledge base, they create, innovate and develop new ideas that will drive our industries, bringing in a superior source of income to this country, more than we could ever hope to get from agriculture alone.

It is clear as daylight that the education sector of any country is the main gateway to its development . And for Guyana, it is no different.

So you see, learning proposition, the agricultural sector is NOT the gateway to Guyana’s future; it is an old path that will just lead to degradation and despair. IN the past, it has indeed been the gateway to the future, but that future gone, and we need a new direction; be it in education, mining or in oil. These surely are the gateway to Guyana’s future. Agriculture? No I don’t think so.

Thank you for listening.

Note: Sandcreek was lauded for having used more statistics and factual evidences.

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