Debate, Discuss and Change (DDC)

31 Jan 2018

Project Title: Debate, Discuss and Change (DDC)
Lead Applicant: Jinishian Memorial Foundation (JMF)
Co-Applicant: Lori Development Centre (LDC) NGO
Co-Applicant: “Compass” research, training, and consultancy Centre NGO

Aim of the project
DDC project aims at empowering the youth in Yerevan, Vanadzor, Gyumri and Gavar trough providing them with a space and opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in conducting efficient researches, as well as to identify and deepen their understanding on social, economic and civic hot issues, and to freely and openly express their ideas by participating in structured and public debates.

Target groups and beneficiaries
University students in Lori, Shirak, and Gegharkunik marzes, compared to their peers in capital city are more deprived from the opportunity to openly express their ideas, learn about alternative points of view, and therefore, shape their positions. Youth in those marzes need to co-operate with their peers from universities of Yerevan and feel that they not only have a voice in society, but also have access to information and knowledge, thanks to which they can integrate into society as a full member and not simply as passive inheritors of a dysfunctional and inequitable system.
DDC project directly targets about 500 students and university graduates (18-30 years of age) of in total 10 state universities from Yerevan (nearly 100 students), Gavar /Gegharkunik marz (nearly 100 students), Gyumri/ Shirak marz (nearly 150 students) and Vanadzor/Lori marz (nearly 150 students) keeping and considering the gender balance and diversity.
The indirect or final beneficiaries of the project are the other students/graduates of the universities/community youth (peers of the project direct participants), about 4,000 people in total: nearly 1,500 from Yerevan and 2,500 from Gavar, Gyumri, and Vanadzor, who will be indirectly influenced by the project activities. In addition, the universities’ administration/faculties and other stakeholders in the field of education will indirectly benefit from this project’s implementation.

Main activities
The main activities of DDC project are the following:

  • Creation of Debate clubs at JMF’s four Youth Centers (YC) in Gavar, Gyumri, Vanadzor and Yerevan: The project team/staff will start the activities on clubs’ creation with Power Point presentations in 10 universities. The club will be a place where the students will come together, invite specialists/experts and will actively discuss current civic, economic, environmental, human rights’ hot issues. Each club will have a core group composed of 15-20 students who will lead, plan, and organize the club’s activities.
  • Capacity development trainings based on the “Basics of Debate” manual: Two two-day trainings will be organised for 80 club members from 4 YCs (40 students in each trainings). After those trainings the club members will learn the basics of debating: debate ethics, structure, judging of debates, preparation of constructive speeches, and enhance their knowledge in public speaking and team work. 
  • Research and identification of the debate topics in 4 YCs: The club members will identify the debate topics, that will address current social, economic, and civic hot issues of the country and particular marzes. After identification of the topics the teams will conduct researches to get deeper information and thorough understanding of the issue they are focused on.
  • Training seminars on the identified topics: In total 24 seminars (6 in each city/15-20 participants per each seminar) on the debate topics will be organized. Well-known experts in the fields of interest of the students will be invited for those interactive seminars. These seminars will help the students to have deeper understanding on the topic, get well prepared for the debates and use the gained knowledge and skills during the upcoming debate tournaments.
  • Guest speaker meetings: Guest speaker meetings will be organised in each city (in total 8 meetings, 2 in each city). Guest speakers will be experts and leaders in the field of identified topics.
  • Debate tournaments in each city: Intra-city debate tournaments will be organised to focus attention and raise awareness of the population on the hot issues, as well as to identify the best teams in the sites. The debate tournaments will be open for public and will take place in the largest public auditoriums/halls available at the particular site. At least six teams will participate in the debate tournament of each city. 
  • TV debates in each city: The best four teams selected as a result of intra-city tournaments will participate in TV debates of local TV stations. In total 8 TV debates will be shot and broadcasted on a local TV channel.
  • TV debates at “Free Citizen” TV programme broadcasted on Yerkir Media TV channel with participation of the best teams of four cities: The best teams of Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, and Gavar (two teams from each site) will participate in debates which will be shot and broadcasted on “Free Citizen” TV programme of Yerkir Media TV channel. 
  • - Presentations on the project results: An event dedicated to the presentation of the project results will be organised. During the event a debate will be organised on an issue that will be identified/recommended by the local NGOs targeted by the “STRONG CSOs for Stronger Armenia” project.

Expected outcome and positive change brought by the project
DDC project includes almost all key elements for individual development. It provides the youth with necessary space and gives opportunity to exercise their rights and prepare themselves to positively contribute in development of a free and open democratic society throughout their lifetime. The project will foster the enhancement of three main pillars of individual development, which are necessary for any active citizen who cares about the future and wellbeing of his/her society and is ready to actively and productively participate in a process of democratisation. These three pillars are the knowledge, the skills and the attitude. Every debate club participant will build up his/her understanding on the world and will enhance his/her knowledge on global and local social, political and economic issues; will develop his/her research, presentation and analytical skills; and will become morally prepared and eager to actively participate in positive social change. The partner organisations’ collaboration within DDC project will develop their capacities, will make their activities more efficient, and will ensure continuity of the project results.