By Uyen Hoang To, Thuong Thuong Dang and Van Tran Thi Tuong

The First Asia Youth Forum, sponsored by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA) and UNITED Thailand was held in Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand May 14-17. More than 200 repre-entatives from 23 different countries attended.

The aim of the forum was to develop and empower youth through debate. It was a great honor and wonderful experience for the Vietnamese CLE team to participate. We were five members, coming from different universities through-out Viet Nam: Uyen Hoang, Thuong Dang and Van Tran were the debaters, with coach Huong Dang and supervisor Hien Bui.

Team CLE Viet Nam was there to compete in debates, and also to learn, by participating in debate training sessions. Debate is a formal contest of argumentation between two teams or individuals. More than just a verbal or performance skill, debate combines the ideals of reasoned argument, tolerance for different points of view and rigorous self-examination. It is a great way for those who hold opposing views to discuss controversial issues without descending to insult, emotional appeals or personal bias.

More importantly, debate is an essential tool for developing and maintaining democracy and open societies.  That’s why debate as a skill is important not only to CLE members, but to all law students.

A Necessary Skill

Our CLE programme is educating future legal ad-vocates on the social justice needs of marginalized com-munities. Our programme also aims to equip communities with skills they can use to protect their rights. In order to achieve those goals, CLE members are trained in critical thinking, reasoning and re-search skills and then teach that training to communities. It is obvious that lawyers can use debate skills and that debate helps train people to “speak up” for themselves.

So we consider debate one of the necessary skills of law students. With the idea of integrating debate trainings into CLE programmes created by BABSEACLE and IDEA, the Team focused on learning how to teach debate to others during the event.

With the knowledge, skills and experience the Team gained through participating in the Asian Forum, we already have a concrete plan of how to use debate to strengthen CLE in Viet Nam.

First, we will design a debate lesson plan following the CLE lesson plan format. Then, we will offer mini-workshops to all the Core Partner universities, to train other CLE members debate skills through lessons and competitions. We will co-operate with Viet Nam Youth to form a Debate Club, Soft Skill Centers and keep in touch with the experts from IDEA.

Last but not least, we want to encourage students to write articles relevant to debate on the CLE website, social media and CLE magazine to spread this idea. We, as the pioneer debaters among CLE mem-bers, are excitedly ready to put this plan into action!

“Although our team included CLE members working and living throughout Viet Nam, we quickly became a strong and friendly family. The 1st IDEA Asia Youth Forum helped us understand and practice teamwork. We will use this skill to develop CLE in Viet Nam with high solidarity!” – Uyen