STFA Tam Pak Yu College came up short against Po Kok Secondary School in the sixth round of the 14th NESTA-SCMP debating competition. The schools debated on the motion "E-learning should replace paper and traditional books in Hong Kong's schools".
In a match-up between Form Four students, speakers from Tam Pak Yu - Sophia Lau Ching-han, Kelvin Kwok Yau-wai and Teddy Siu Tak-hang - supported replacing paper books with e-learning, while debaters from Po Kok - Alice Wong Chin-chun, Lulu Kam Tsz-ching and Coby Siu Lok-yan - were against it.
Anne Kiely from Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School and Eunice Chu from Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School were the adjudicators for the debate, held at SFTA Tam Pak Yu College last Tuesday.
Tam Pak Yu provided strong evidence in support of using e-learning. First speaker Sophia said "e-learning makes learning more effective, is economical and is more environmentally friendly" than traditional books.
The opposition acknowledged the benefits of e-learning but said traditional books should not be taken away completely. They said different methods of learning should be used, without relying solely on e-learning.
The word "replace" in the motion was the key to Po Kok's win, as they managed to persuade the audience that e-learning should not completely take over traditional books.
"I think the affirmative side could have done a better job explaining why e-learning should replace traditional books," said Chu. "The negative side took a sensible approach towards the argument. They agreed with the benefits of e-learning, but questioned whether it should replace traditional books."
The adjudicators also praised the negative side for their in-depth analysis of the motion. The team pointed out that e-learning can be bad for students' health, and would require them to stare at a screen for long periods of time every day. They also tore holes in Tam Pak Yu's argument that e-learning is more eco-friendly (because it uses less paper) by pointing out that the electronic devices produce a huge amount of e-waste.
Kiely praised the speakers from both teams for their clear presentations.
"Everyone spoke at a great pace," she said. "Nobody was going too fast or trying to pack too much information into their speeches."
Teddy, the third speaker from Tam Pak Yu, was named the best speaker of the debate.
"His delivery was confident and theatrical," said Kiely. "His rebuttals were extended, which is a sign of a strong and confident speaker."
The contest, which is sponsored by The Edge Learning Centre, is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.