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Debate of St. John’s College and Chundikuli Girls’ College for the CMS Chairman’s Trophy

3rd August 2017

The second Debate between St. John’s College and Chundikuli Girls’ College for the CMS Chairman’s Trophy was held on Thursday, 3rd August 2017 at Chundikuli Girls’ College, in the Grace Hensman Memorial Hall. The Chief Guest of the event was Mrs. Thanja Peiris, Chairperson of the CMS Governing Body.

At 7:55 a.m. the Chairperson, Mrs. Thanja Peiris tossed three strips of folded paper with the topics of the debate, namely:

1) It doesn't matter whether you win or lose - how you play the game matters.

2) Parents should be held responsible for their school-going children’s disciplinary issues.

3) Social deprivation causes crime.

The second topic was selected in the lot. A toss of coin decided that St. John’s was to propose the motion while CGC opposed it. With the topic revealed, the excitement intensified. The two groups of passionate and enthusiastic children were herded into the IT lab where they spent an entire hour gathering information from the internet and writing out notes to be taken into the debate. Mr. Jekhan Aruliah, voluntary coach for the students of St. John’s and Mrs. Anuloja Rohan, teacher-in-charge of the debating team from Chundikuli chipped in their ideas and gave last minute guidance and instructions to the students.

At 9a.m. the two sides were ready. The participants from St. John’s College were:

• P.Keerthishan

• P.Zeruba

• T.Pavithran

• V.Thuvaargan

• P. Sugananthan



The participants from Chundikuli Girls’ College were:

  • S.Dilaxcy
  • K.Elini
  • K.Lathanki
  • S.Srikowshini
  • J.Mariya


All the Advanced Level students (LVI & UpVI) of both schools assembled in the Hall by 8:45a.m. Moderator, Madam Rebecca Rawnson, Manager, British Council, and judges Mr. S.Pathmanathan, Dr.S.K.Kannathas were on time and familiarized themselves with the style of the debate and the rules which St. John’s and Chundikuli Girls’ College had agreed upon. As the ‘judges’ decision will be final and binding’ the responsibility of giving the correct judgment lay heavily on their shoulders.

The third judge, Dr.R.K.Guruparan, a lecturer attached to the Department of Law, University of Jaffna was apparently a man of many commitments. He was, due to unavoidable circumstances, late by 15 minutes and had to depart as soon as the felicitation of the judges was over, to be present at another function.

No sooner had he taken the seat, that the Vice President of the English Union of CGC, Albanka Jerald Thillegendra, extended a very warm welcome to the guests.

The Debate began at about 9:20a.m., without further delay. Each side talked eloquently.

Some of the points put forward by SJC:

  • Parents are usually the first to observe slight behavioural changes in their children.
  • It is the school which complains about undesirable behavior of children to the parents – not vice versa.
  • Parents have control of everything that might affect a child’s behavior – e.g., television. They can control how long their children watch TV and also what programmes they watch.
  • Children mirror their parents.
  • Teachers usually teach a class of 30 or 40 students. They will hardly know the names of their children in their class, let alone notice a slight behavioural change. Parents on the other hand have only two or three children under their care. They are often the first to notice and the first to correct mischief.
  • Parents correct their children before they do wrong; schools correct the students after they have done something wrong,

  • The advice of parents touches one’s heart and makes him/her to behave better.
  • There is a law in almost all the countries of the world saying that parents are responsible for their children till they reach the age of 18.
  • A 13-year-old South Florida boy killed a 6-year-old girl while imitating professional wrestling moves was convicted of first-degree. The mother of the boy was to be blamed.
  • Thomas Alva Edison, kicked out of school became a scientist after his mother homeschooled him. Edison later recounts, “My mother was the making of me.’
  • Adolf Hitler, the German dictator was the way he was because of his father who often got drunk and repeatedly beat Adolf.

  • Children were rocks sculpted mostly by parents.
  • Genes passed on to the offspring from the parents determine their behavioural traits.
  • Parents teach everything to a child in their formative years – from the time they are born till they go to nursery. Children learn a lot from their parents.
  • Parents try to correct their children by showing them love and teachers, by being strict; children are usually pushed into action by love.

CGC countered the arguments with a few statistics. Some of the points put forward by CGC:

  • Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience. Words such as training, obedience, rules and codes are more related to institutions like schools and are not associated with parents or parenting.
  • Parents are usually indifferent to their children. It is the teachers who either punish or reward to promote positive behavioural changes.
  • Parents do not have proper knowledge of how to handle their children. Teachers can handle difficult children better because of the training they have received.
  • Parents often love their children too much and pet them. Such children do not escape teachers who put discipline first.

  • It is impossible for parents to love their children and at the same time, correct them.
  • In most cases, teachers are role models of children.
  • If parents are responsible for the children’s behavioural issues, who is going to be held responsible for objectionable acts committed by orphans and by those whose parents are abroad?
  • Children spend very little time with their parents now.
  • Unjust world of ours is responsible for the children’s indiscipline.
  • A child can ignore a parent’s advice but when a teacher starts advising, he has to listen whether he likes it or not. He/she cannot go anywhere when being advised by a teacher.
  • The state has the responsibility of assisting the parents in fulfilling children’s rights according to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

‘Points of information are interruptions made by the members on the opposing side to dispute what the current speaker is saying, or to pose a challenging question. Speakers can either accept or reject interruptions. Time taken for points of information will be added (approximately) to the speaker’s overall time given.’ Based on this rule, the students of St. John’s College made many interruptions / points of information. They also quoted two songs to support their points:

  • "எந்த குழந்தையும் நல்ல குழந்தைதான் மண்ணில் பிறக்கையிலே, அவன் நல்லவன் ஆவதும் தீயவன் ஆவதும் அன்னை வளர்ப்பினிலே." – Every child is born good. How a child grows up to be depends on its mother / parents.

  • ‘’தாயிற் சிறந்த கோவிலும் இல்லை; தந்தை சொல் மிக்க மந்திரம் இல்லை.’ – There isn’t a better temple than a mother; there isn’t a better mantra than the advice of a father.

After the debate, the judges sat together to decide the winner. About ten long impatient minutes later, Dr. Guruparan went to announce the results. On stage, he:

  • said that he wished to give his comments for the benefit of current and future debaters.
  • noted that the debate was deliberated with well-thought-out arguments. He said, ’Both teams have immense potential.’

  • advised the debaters to diversify their arguments instead of sticking to one debating point.
  • suggested that the first debater present about four or five undisputable arguments and the others develop on them.

  • briefly explained the two styles of debate – Oxford Style and Parliamentary Style
  • commended both the teams for their performance and said that both teams are good enough to take part in the Sri Lanka Schools Debating Championship.

  • said that a debater wishing to interrupt should stand up and say, ‘I have a point of information to be taken.’ The decision to either entertain the interruption or to turn it down is the speaker’s.
  • criticized the Johnians for making too many interruptions. Said, ‘There was a barrage of interruptions that the rebuttal speaker from Chundikuli Girls’ College was not allowed to continue her speech.’
  • told the debaters to avoid personal attacks on one another during a debate.
  • weighed the importance of style and content and said that content always overrode style.
  • pointed out very wisely that the arguments cannot be prepared within just one hour. ‘You have to sum up an experience of a lifetime,’ he said.

‘And now for the results,’ he said. ‘Chundikuli Girls’ College won by about half a mark. The Best Debater Award goes to V.Thuvaargan, the rebuttal speaker of St. John’s!’ The hall went silent as the Johnians tried to digest the results.

The rest of the events followed on the heels of one another. The Moderator and Judges were felicitated by the Manager of Chundikuli Girls’ College, Mrs. Rushira Kulasingam.

Next was a speech by the Chairperson of the CMS Governing Body and Chief Guest of the Debate, Mrs. Thanja Peiris.

She said, ‘I am very happy and proud to have witnessed this wonderful debate. The CMS Governing Body wants to see schools focusing on English, IT and Global Citizenship. The debate I witnessed today is proof that the Governing Body’s message has reached St. John’s College and Chundikuli Girls’ College. Dr. Dan Seevaratnam, my predecessor, initiated this Inter-School Debate in 2016, with the hope of improving the debating skills of students. I bear testimony to the fact that his wishes are being accomplished. I will remember to send him a message about what I saw and heard today.’

‘It is a great achievement but there is a little room for improvement,’ she added. ‘The schools, with the help of the British Council and bilingual medium of education have improved the standards of English in this part of the country. I also urge you to read more and read widely. Reading is the key.’

The Presentation of Awards to the winners and participants followed. The Chairperson distributed the awards.










The Vote of Thanks by the Assistant Secretary of the English Union of Chundikuli Girls’ College, Rishani Ketheswaran, brought the function to an end.

After a group photo and a fellowship tea in the dining hall, St. John’s bade farewell to CGC, leaving the trophy behind…hopefully for just one year…

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