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Learn to Debate: Forming Engaged Citizens | Civic Europe
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Learn to Debate: Forming Engaged Citizens

A year-long educational program for teachers and youngsters, built on debating and argumentation as tools to educate the younger generation in the spirit of dialogue and communication.


Who is behind this?

Ioana Stupariu

AGORA Debate



Idea pitch

Are you a teacher, high school or university student in Romania? Are you interested in what happens in our society and how we can shape it? Then our year-long program is for you! Make your voice heard by opening a club or participating in debate tournaments and trainings dedicated to enhancing your critical thinking and oratory skills. Be part of the change that our society so strongly needs and help build a foundation for our society’s democratic future: an outspoken and engaged generation.

Where will your project idea take place?

Transylvania: Cluj-Napoca,Turda,Oradea, Întorsura Buzăului,Mediaș,Bistrița,Dej,Sighetu Marmației.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

Formal education in Romania hardly ever addresses civic engagement. Young students, especially in less urbanized areas, finish their studies with no civic education and with little interest in the state of our society. This affects the quality of public discourse and the strength of our democracy and Romania’s future possibilities for development. Efforts of NGOs such as ours have proven effective in large urban areas: our alumni consistently demonstrate commitment to public service through their political involvement, volunteering acts and work through other NGOs. As we firmly believe in equal opportunities, we seek to extend our work to less urbanized areas. However, the funds we can regularly attract are scarce, they target the large cities, thus limiting our reach.

Who are you doing it for?

The main beneficiaries: high school and university students. To ensure accessibility, we will offer need-based scholarships to allow participants in need to attend the events (although participation is for free, accommodation and transportation costs are typically self-funded, which is why participation is hindered for those with financial difficulties). The other targeted group: teachers. We are already working with a small number of teachers and alumni to manage debate clubs in some schools, yet most of them are in the large cities, at the best schools. To reach our less-urbanized targeted areas, we will organise training sessions to give more teachers the necessary means to form debate clubs in their schools. Finally, all debate competitions we will organize will be open to the public.

How do you plan to get there?

For highschool: 1) Outreach: recruitment and selection of professors and alumni to open debate clubs, targeting rural areas and small cities in Transylvania. 2) Provide training sessions for 20+ selected teachers. We provide professional training to equip them with the necessary skills to use debate as a teaching method. 3) Organize 2 competitions for high-schoolers, in which they can debate. They get feedback from experienced judges. 4) Build an online repository with trainings, materials, with continuous access. This platform can be later used for new clubs.
For university: 1) Organize 2 national debate competitions for university students, 2) Promote the competitions to attract students from under-privileged areas, 3) Organize minimum 10 trainings sessions for university students.

What are the expected results?

Quantitative impact:
•open 20 new debate clubs, in minimum 10 cities, primarily underprivileged areas
•train 20+ teachers and debate instructors
•400 high-school students directly involved
•Support 20 uni students in financial need at student competitions
Qualitative impact:As our education system is based on memorizing and deprives students of developing communication skills, we aim to form youngsters to be informed citizens, willing to contribute to our democracy. A year from now, we would like to see those students emerging not only from urban centers, but from the places that are currently the hardest to reach: rural areas and smaller towns.Moreover, through this form of disruptive education, our initiative can lead, long-term, to an empowered and more engaged local community.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Our idea tackles the very reason for which democracy is threatened: the lack of citizens’ civic education and critical thinking skills. We want to provide the necessary skills to everyone, especially those in rural areas and small towns. After a year of participating in debate tournaments, debate club meetings and trainings, discussing topics relevant to the community, we believe that each youngster taking part in our program will learn more about the problems our society faces, and is likely to become more interested in being part of the solution. In a society where youngsters are not encouraged to pursue public service and civic engagement, education on the importance of societal change is all that is really needed to spark the interest of those who have the power to materialize it.

Why is this idea important to you?

We believe in the power of debating as a tool to form engaged citizens. This is what has been motivating us for 20+ years, and has brought many alumni back to us, to give back to the community. This is why we are here. Romania is not a land of equal opportunity. Even when there are opportunities, they are more easily available to the youth in urban centers, and to the better schools. These youngsters become better equipped to face the market and the society, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle, in which the gap between the rural and urban areas only increases. Primarily due to lack of resources, so far, we could not fight this to the extent intended.With this project, we seek to decrease this gap, and make this learning and training opportunity to youth from areas that are often neglected.

€ 67000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Office and admin expenses: 4800 EUR
Travel expenses (team, trainers): 4700 EUR
Travel expenses (scholarships): 2500 EUR
Scholarships (per diem): 2200 EUR
Meals: 3800 EUR
Accommodation expenses: 7600 EUR
Marketing, video and PR: 3200 EUR
Prizes (tropheys, books etc.): 1000 EUR
Personnel costs (employees and outsourced): 15.350 EUR
Trainers costs: 2350 EUR
IT development, software tools: 17.000 EUR
Accounting, legal advice, compliance: 2500 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Ideas on how to maximize visibility and how to reach out to more youngsters would be great!


Ioana Stupariu

Andra Literat

Nina Renata Pop

Codruta Bonta

Silviu Soit

Idea created on May 26, 2020
Last edit on May 26, 2020

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