A youthful voice…

11 06 2010

MY YOUNG TEENAGER has some history with an educational organisation in Brunei Darussalam called the Brunei English Language Teachers’ Association or BELTA for short. Not long after its formation when BELTA first organized its inaugural Belait District-level ‘English Spelling Bee’ competition, my son had emerged as its first champion when he was in Year 5, if I’m not mistaken.

In Years 7 and 8 respectively, he had taken part in BELTA’s ‘Word Play’ contests at the national level amongst the secondary school students in the country. On both occasions, he was a member of two different schools — the Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Haji Abu Bakar Secondary School and Chung Hua Middle School respectively in Kuala Belait.

On his birthday late last month, he successfully qualified out of 30 participants representing secondary schools from throughout the nation, as one of the eight top finalists of the 4th BELTA Oratory Competition 2010. Below was part of his speech text:

The Power of Youths

Our world today is consumed by crises. Diseases, terrorism and wars are all calamities which affect our lives and minds. But the real crisis lies beneath the surface of negative events. That crisis, ladies and gentlemen, is ignorance.

Have you ever heard of an English proverb that goes, “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem”? Well, this statement is certainly true in almost any circumstance. But we tend to forget that one problem can lead to another. If you do not solve the root cause of the problem, then none of its consequences will be solved. We youths, as the future of our country and the world today, are responsible for identifying these problems, and hopefully provide the solutions as well.

Last March, I participated in the ISB Borneo Global Issues Conference, in which local and overseas students came together to create solutions, as realistically as possible, to try and solve global issues. From there, I realized that everything good and worthwhile doing starts with a proper education. Equal opportunities, most importantly in education, should be given to less fortunate children to enable them to become more independent so that they are well-prepared to face the harsh realities in this era of globalization.

When more youths have a strong educational foundation, it is possible to further develop a country. With an excellent education system in place, we’ll acquire a better mindset which would lead to better critical thinking skills and, in turn, to the crises being solved in more innovative ways.

Once again, I reiterate my concern that ignorance is our main crisis. Therefore, we need to replace it with something of much greater value — knowledge. Knowledge, my friends, is power. The more you know about a crisis, the better prepared you are to make a point. Making a valid and relevant point is what has the power to change people’s mindsets. We have the power of youth and fresh ideas. We have freedom and voice. So let’s transform those fears into a sign of hope — hope that with our generation’s abilities, we can end our fears and change the world for the better.

(Speech by Awang Basil Ali Witsqa bin Awang Mohammad, Form 5 Science of Chung Hua Middle School, Kuala Belait, Negara Brunei Darussalam)

My 16-year-old boy will be competing in the Final of the 4th BELTA Oratory Competition sometime in July, 2010 in Bandar Seri Begawan. It will be only his second speech contest he has ever competed in — the first time when he was in Year 9 participating in an English Public Speaking Competition amongst the Private Secondary Schools nationwide. He could only manage to achieve 5th placing in that particular contest.

But earlier this year, he did come in third in an ‘Environmental Project Presentation’ competition amongst secondary schools which was hosted by the Anthony Abell College in Seria. Well, the best of luck next month, B.A.! 🙂





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