In Conversation

Master this core academic skill

Rajiv Kacholia, Founder, Speech and Debate India talks about the role of speech and debate skills in the overall development of a student

Master this core academic skill

Many student dread standing on the stage and put their point across to a room full of audience. It is one of the reasons why so few students participate in debating and speech contests held at school level. Self-labelling yourself an introvert to avoid going on stage will not do, as addressing audience and presenting a well-reasoned argument is something that you would be called upon to do very often in life. Debate is a critical supplement to a child’s development in academics and life skills. Research has proven that debate is unsurpassed as an academic activity that stimulates and supports a child’s development across many core academic skills including writing speed, reading comprehension level, data analysis and evidence-based reasoning, as well as 21st century skills that employers seek such as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and persuasive communication. "These are critical social and life skills that our kids will need to adapt successfully in our rapidly evolving world. It is an opportunity to boost academic skills with proven gains in test taking and school performance, with a simultaneous improvement in social skills", says Rajiv Kacholia, Founder, Speech and Debate India. Excerpts from an interaction wherein he shows the path to honing these skills:

Why is it important to develop this skill?

Speech and Debate India aims to give students a voice across the most important issues and challenges that we face, whether as individuals, businesses, governments, or society as a whole. It’s critical that we train our next generation of leaders across organisations and entrepreneurs with the aptitude and ability to rigorously and critically examine alternative viewpoints and efficiently find the best solutions. Our programme is the most rigorous format of debate that enables students to critically think, collaborate, and create a bright future.

How can an introvert benefit from honing this skill?

  A large proportion of our population is introverted. It is estimated that upto 50% of adults are introverted and public speaking globally is one of the greatest fears that most people have. Traditional courses in elocution focus too much on outdated techniques requiring memorization and rote learning of speech and dramatic skills that extroverts tend to perform much better at and which can further harm the confidence of introverted kids, reinforcing that they’re not as capable.

Introverts need a safe environment to gradually open up without the pressure that memorising in outdated “public speaking” approaches require. Debate is an intellectual exercise that requires focus on the content, persuasion, and research rather than memorisation skills. Our courses are not about elocution. Introverted students gradually gain confidence and are given a unique platform to excel. Some of our top debaters are kids who are naturally introverted. And many of the top business and political leaders globally are introverted.

How are you promoting this skill among school children in India? 

Speech and Debate India offers students in Grades I-XII a modern U.S Debate pedagogy that has been augmented to provide one of the most challenging and rigorous formats of debate globally, while making it fun and thrilling for kids. Students are trained practically in six different grade and ability based divisions in debate while learning about a content area. This practical application makes learning fun and incorporate exciting games and challenges through our curriculum. The programme is taught exclusively by US instructors and is designed to supplement student learning with their traditional board curriculum and advance their academic aptitude as well as their social skills.

 How can one join the academy and what is the course structure & the fee?

It takes just a few minutes to sign up on the website, for any of our courses.

  For the 2020-21 academic year,  courses are being offered in four quarterly segments. Each course is designed to integrate new students quickly – a student will start debating by the end of the first session! Kids enjoy discussion-based format and live practical debate drills and practice sessions. 

The next set of courses will be starting August 17 through October 3 and include debates on “Mysteries and Courtrooms” (Famous courtroom case debates), “Will Mumbai + Miami = Atlantis” (Environment & Climate Change debates), “Global Leadership 2.0” (Business & Political Leaders & Leadership Styles debates), “Me, My Brain, and I” (Cognitive Psychology debates), “Behind the Scenes” (Arts, Film & Media debates), and “The Global Chronicles” (Current Events debates). Most courses are priced at Rs. 14,900 plus GST.

For a student interested in debating which are the key contests/events to participate in?

Students can attend a Qualifying Tournament to qualify for our Regionals A Tournament in the winter. We will have similar qualifiers in the spring and our Regionals B Tournament in the spring. Students receive points throughout the academic year for their performance in classes, special tournament prep courses, and in Regionals A and B to accumulate total points to qualify for the 2021 National Tournament.

We are also exclusively a part of the largest global speech and debate competition, so a few exceptional students in the Middle School and High School divisions will have an opportunity to represent India in these global rounds next year as well.

To know more, visit

 — As told to Geetu Vaid


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