The Jabuji Debates Sept 2015- March 2016 – a pioneering debating competition
This debating competition is hosted by Eton College and sponsored by Blackwell’s, Oxford’s prestigious bookseller. It is open to 16 – 18 year old students across the UK. The Jabuji Debates are based on geo-political, environmental and social justice themes in the story of Jabujicaba. It is an annual event.
Jabujicaba is an eco-thriller set in Brazil: the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and the president is auctioning off the Amazon forest. The novel is a creative exploration of how we protect our natural world – from the value of tropical forests to mankind, to the status of indigenous peoples and their rights. Jabujicaba is fictional but it always connects back to reality.
The debates are an exciting way for students to hone public speaking and argumentation skills, to explore geo-political and environmental issues and to learn about Brazil and its tropical rainforests.
The debates come with a ‘twist’- the members of each team must argue their position from the mindset of a character in Jabujicaba. It challenges students to develop ethical, economic and political arguments relating to the Amazon: who ‘owns’ it, who should pay to preserve it and why.
The Jabuji Debate Final 2016
Students participating in the day came from Eton College, Windsor Girls School, Simon Langton Girls Grammar (in Kent) and the London Academy of Excellence.
Morning workshops consisted of ice-breakers, a fast paced quiz on Brazil and a hot-seating game to familiarise with characters from the novel Jabujicaba. In the afternoon Eton’s debating society coached and developed argumentation skills and ran the mini debate run off. The mini debate motion was: “It is too late to save the Amazon rainforest”. The two teams selected for the final prepared their arguments with the support of coaches who took part in last year’s pilot Jabuji Debate.
The final debate motion was: “The needs of Brazil to develop are more important than conserving the Amazon Rainforest.”
The debate winners were chosen by the judges comprising Mr Haroon Shirwani, Head of Eton College’s Debating Society, Mr Karl Hansen, Chief Executive of the Living Rainforest and Trust for Sustainable Living and Sigrid Shreeve, author of Jabujicaba (pen name Rosa da Silva) and founder of Voices for Nature. The winners successfully argued for the motion.
The house however chose the team which argued against so nobody ‘lost’.
Seven commendations were also awarded for entries into the competition to students from Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School, Eton College and Windsor Girls schools.
What was involved?
Winning pupils participated in the debating competition which took place all day Thursday 17 March 2016. It involved:
-Workshops to develop understanding and debating skills
-Mini-debates to select the team for the final debate
-A formal evening debate in Eton College‘s Jafar Hall between 8.45pm and 10.00pm, attended by a public audience
The competition was open to students aged 16-18 and in full time education in the UK. To enter the competition students submitted an entry to one of the statements below, consisting of a 1-2 minute video or creative piece of prose, poetry or drama (500 words max.).
Why is the rainforest:
1 ‘A living laboratory’?
2 ‘A magic place’?
3 ‘The heart of Brazil’?
They were provided with a sample response example of a written response.
The deadline for submissions was 14 December 2015 and results were announced on 4 January 2016.
About the Pilot Debate
The Jabuji Pilot Debate was the idea of Kerri Hicks, biology teacher at Eton College. It was held with the support of Tom Banin, geography teacher at Burnham Grammar. The success of the pilot resulted in Eton College agreeing to host the Jabuji Debates.
Want to find out more or help?
Check out our learning resources:
Watch the Pilot Debate video