IDEA NL intern Nany Engelhart introduced Debate in the Neighborhood in Curaçao

Curaçao youth are waiting to make use of debate educational methods to make their voices heard!

Debate den Bario- Spreading debate education on Curaçao.

By: Nathania Engelhardt

It has always been my dream to spread debate on Curaçao. After years of brainstorming and four months as an intern at IDEA NL, this is no longer a dream or an internship idea; I now have a Project Proposal for ‘Debate den Bario’*. This project focuses debate education for the empowerment of disadvantaged youth on Curacao using IDEA-NL’s Debate in the Neighbourhood [DIN] approach. In doing so, I attempt to create positive impact for the youth, neighbourhoods and society as a whole. It also give youth a voice on topics of their interest such as 'child abuse'. See the debate that I moderated here.

After two weeks in the IDEA NL office in Utrecht it was time to fill my bags with IDEA resource materials and continue my internship journey on Curaçao. I first had to meet family members, catch up on the latest stories and most importantly visit the beach! Afterwards, it was back to work: arranging meetings with local organizations, conducting a more in-depth literature search and engaging in conversations with the youth.

The support I received was outstanding: every organisation I approached was willing to hold an interview. I even had the opportunity to help with the organisation of a national dialogue with Bos di Hubentut and be a trainer at a debate workshop from JCI IOBA. These opportunities and the contributions of other organizations and individuals all helped with the analysis for Debate den Bario.

Based on my analysis I concluded that there is a need for youth participation on the island. Especially disadvantaged youth need support  to develop their abilities to voice their opinions and engage in dialogues. Debate den Bario can help by building on the capacity of local organisations for debate education. It is however important to avoid mingling in institutional and political conflicts on the island and to take in consideration the lack of debate culture that exists.

Debate den Bario profits hereby from the IDEA brand and the effectiveness of the DIN concept. DIN’s use of neighbourhood leaders and trainers and focus on content that is relevant for the youth gives an extra boost to the debate education provided. After years of implementation, there are numerous benefits reported ranging from more confidence for the youth to an improved social cohesion in communities.

These elements match well with the different developments on Curaçao. Governmental action and policies are shifting towards more youth participation, the development of 21st Century skills and strengthening of  neighbourhoods. Neighbourhood organizations are receiving more support to further develop their activities aimed at neighbourhood development. These organisations are often the result of the self-organizing ability of neighbours and the willingness of locals to volunteer for the different activities. Furthermore various organisations and individuals showed a willingness to join Debate den Bario by adopting the project as part of their current projects or provide trainers and help with promotion.

There is thus great potential for the implementation of Debate den Bario. I look forward in taking the first steps towards executing the different activities as detailed in my project proposal. Last  but definitely not least, I am thankful to Bos di Hubentut, JCI IOBA, JCI United Citizens, KC Toastmasters Club and Konseho di Hubentut and for the different individuals (my parents included) that had a valuable contributions to this project. I am also grateful for my supervisors at Wageningen University and IDEA.

* Debate in the Neighbourhood translated in Papiamentu; the native language of Curaçao