The sub-regional secondary school debating competition emerged from the success of national events, and the collaboration of the respective organising agencies: the Papua New Guinea based Institute of Business Studies, the Solomon Islands Regional Youth Parliament Conference, and the Vanuatu based Pacific Institute of Public Policy.
The inaugural event was hosted at the Moresby Arts Theatre by the Institute of Business Studies, with support from the Department of National Planning and Monitoring.
Team PNG comprised students selected from the best speakers of the IBS National School Debate, including: Lucy Kangol (Utu Secondary), Emilyn White (Notre Dame Secondary School), Sharjeen Kua (Port Moresby International School), Michael Komba (Highlands Lutheran International School), Jeremiah Panapen (Coronation College) and Samuel Kavop (Port Moresby International School).
The Solomon Islands team were supported through the UNDP Parliamentary Strengthening Project and the Solomon Islands Government. Students were selected from the National Speech Competition held in September 2014, and included: Tanya Wickham (Saint Nicholas), Jessica Parapolo (KG Sixth School), Denmark Pahu (Betikama Adventist College) and Isaac Barley (Selwyn College).
Team Vanuatu were selected through the Vanuatu School Debate Competition hosted by the Pacific Institute of Public Policy, which funded the participation of the national team with additional financial and logistical support from National Bank Vanuatu, ANZ Bank, Asco Motors, Vanuatu National Provident Fund and Ridgeway Blake Lawyers. Team Vanuatu included: Alice James (Lycée Louis Antoine de Bougainville), Georgilla Worworbu (Port Vila International School), George Worworbu (Onesua Presbyterian College), Joel Johnson (Onesua Presbyterian College), Constance Wei (Port Vila International School), Kyla Miras (Malapoa College).
The week long programme gave rise to a series of inspiring debates, covering a range of important regional policy issues.
Round 1: Vanuatu vs Solomon Islands
All customary land in Melanesia should be registered to ensure sustainable development and economic growth
Round 2: Vanuatu vs PNG
Donors should decide how Pacific Island countries spend their money
Round 3: PNG vs Solomon Islands
It is fair for Australia to negotiate with Pacific island countries to host asylum seekers
Final: PNG vs Solomon Islands
Natural resource extraction in the Pacific Island countries has led to immense wealth for its people
In the end it was the home team of PNG that took the inaugural champions shield.
Participants also engaged in a range of cultural and learning activities, including scheduled visits to Port Moresby landmarks including; the National Parliament, the National Museum, Botanic Gardens, and a visit to the recording of the Tainim Graun talkback show.
The Pacific Institute of Public Policy was nominated to host the 2015 competition in Port Vila, and will work in partnership with Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training to expand on the success of this year’s event.