Singaporeans’ intense competition with big countries like China and India amplified at international debate, Shanmugam

4259
Photo: World Schools Debating Championships FB

China beating native English language speakers to clinch World Schools Debating Championships indicates the new world order and competition for Singaporeans, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in his Facebook.

The World Schools Debate Championship (WSDC), which attracts high school students from around the world, is the biggest and one of the most prestigious debate championships in the world.

The last time the WSDC Grand Final featured 2 nations who were both appearing in the Grand Final for the 1st time was in 1994.

In that final, the United States defeated Pakistan. In WSDC’s first 11 years from 1988 to 1999, 6 different nations won the championship – Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, England, the United States and Australia. Since the start of the 21st Century, only 2 further nations have won WSDC Ireland and Singapore.

This year’s Grand Final was a battle for both the WSDC championship title and the Top English as a Second Language (ESL) Team award. ESL teams have reached the Grand Final before (Pakistan in 1994 and 1996), but have never won the championship.

China became the 1st team to win the championship held in Zagreb, Croatia, from June 17-27, and the Top ESL Team award in the same year. With the win China became the 9th nation to win WSDC and only the 3rd new winner this century.

The two Grand Finalist nations of this year represented about 35 per cent of the world’s population between them.

Both China and India have reached the WSDC quarter-finals on one occasion before this year (China in 2014 and India in 2017), but neither had ever reached the semi-finals until this year.

Mr Shanmugam in pointing out the semifinalists of the debating competition for this year – China, India, Singapore and England – noted that “three Asian countries (were) non-native speakers of English.”

He said that it was interesting that “China beat England, and India beat Singapore in the semis.”

“This is the new world, and the competition for us – big countries like China, India. China has caught up very fast, and has begun overtaking, even in areas like mastery of English,” he added.