Maryknoll Convent School defeated Pentecostal Lam Hon Kwong School at the 2015-2016 Hong Kong Secondary Schools Debating Competition Enhanced Format Division 1 Grand Final last Friday at City University of Hong Kong.
In the motion of whether Hong Kong students should take a gap year, Maryknoll argued for. Cyrena So Heng-yee, along with teammates Shannon Chu Hoiying and Rachel Tong Man-sheng, stressed that a gap year would help students experience other cultures, discover academic and professional passion, and acquire valuable life skills. The team said the gap year offered a great opportunity to find their direction after years of preparing for public exams.
Lam Hon Kwong’s team refuted this by stating that learning should not have been restricted in the gap year; students could achieve all life skills or develop their potentials in a four-month break after the DSEs, as well as during their university years or internship.
Chantel Tse Yee-lai, Alf Suen Long-hin and Michelle Yang Yin-ka from Lam Hon Kwong also pointed out that a gap year could cause a loss of academic momentum and place a huge financial burden on families.
Maryknoll was declared the winner, with adjudicator Michael Evershed stating that “Maryknoll knocked out the points raised by the other team.”
But adjudicator Sabrina Cheng said that in terms of engagement, the debate lacked a direct comparison as to the harms and benefits raised by both teams. “One thing that all teams could have improved on is to make a direct comparison. For example, why do you think that your benefits still outweigh whatever harms your opponents tried to prove,” she said.
Another adjudicator Samuel Chan said that the debate became stale later on, especially in the free debate session as both teams were recycling the same response. He recommended both teams should have prepared two or three layers of response to each argument or rebuttal to move the debate forward.
Maryknoll’s Rachel Tong Man-sheng was named the best speaker. “She was able to make the momentum move fully to her side of the debate,” said Evershed. “She also put together the package of rebuttal and brought back the main points in such a way that actually expanded and took it further. She was persuasive in that passion, and sincere in the delivery.”
The Standard Format Grand Final was also held on the same day, with PLK Laws Foundation College defeating Our Lady of the Rosary College for the title. Brandon Wong Chun-fung from PLK Laws Foundation College won the best speaker award in this category.