Youth Leading Debate
Developing Political skills through the art of debate
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Debate and Political Participation

Describes how competitive debate supports youth political participation and the development of relevant skills.

Designing a Youth Debate Program

Includes guidance for creating and implementing a youth debate program using the YLD model.

Program Examples

Each country example describes unique features for youth debate programs considering the context, country, and program budget.


This section contains program resources, including NDI’s Debate Program Manual, NDI’s Debate Instruction Manual, NDI’s Tournament Manual, and sample materials.

"In a sense, we can say that debate is a path that will lead us to a more tolerant society...being a tolerant society that accepts differences, we will surely become a creative, logical, critical and constructive society that recognizes it is our differences that become a motor to generate ideas.” - Otto Barrientos, Quetzaltenango
To read more about the importance of youth debate, visit
“11 Reasons why youth debates are crucial to a democracy”
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Program examples

Youth policy debate as an integrated component of youth political participation programs with built-in opportunities for young people to practice their newfound skills during debate competitions and through other program activities. Each country example highlights unique debate program variations based on the country context, the creativity of the youth participants and the political environment.

  • Zambia debates


    In collaboration with the Centre for Young Leaders in Africa (CYLA) and Youth4Parliament, NDI gathered young people from political parties and civil society organizations to develop their debate skills and generate discussion on critical issues in Zambia.

  • Lebanon debates program

    Sar el Wa2et (It’s About Time)

    In collaboration with a recurring primetime television program hosted by famed political talk show personality Marcel Ghanem, called “Sar el Waqet” (“It’s About Time”), NDI-trained students debate draft laws and discuss them with elected officials.

  • Guatemala Debates

    Jóvenes Liderando Debates is a nine-month program to help politically active young people learn the art of competitive policy debate. The program consisted of policy dialogues, debate training and regional and national debate competitions.

  • Moldova debates


    Challenger is a one-year program that offers intensive training and practical exercises to a select group of young professionals. During the program, participants attend a policy debate school, playing the role of “government” and “opposition”.

  • Jordan Celebrations

    Ana Usharek (I Participate)

    In Jordan, NDI is partnering with Universities to help young people use democratic methods and community action to become invested in their nation’s future. Through debates, students openly discuss democratic practices and current events.

  • Libya High school Program

    High School Debates Program

    In Libya, NDI is partnering with the Dialogue and Debate Association (DDA) to implement a high school debate program. DDA’s debate programs, conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, aid students in developing vital skills with the goal of making changes in their communities

  • Armenian Debates


    In Armenia, NDI’s Debathon youth debate program serves as a platform for non-affiliated Armenian youth to engage in political dialogue and develop their skills in advocating for political needs.


This section contains program resources, including NDI’s Debate Program Manual, Debate Instruction Manual, and Tournament Manual.

program manual

Program Manuals

Program Materials

Youth Debate Videos

Podcast photo

DemWorks Podcast

Zambia debate photo

Additional Resources

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External Resources