Promoting debating culture in Belarus


Since 2011 Belarusians youth has been offered a chance to go studying at universities across Europe. In total 300 scholarships have been granted as part of the OESS and ESSYB higher education programmes funded by the European Union. One of the students who received a scholarship from the ESSYB programme is Volha Shavela.

Volha studied in Venice, Italy, where she obtained a master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation from European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. After her studies she came back to Belarus and started working as a PR manager for projects like “Start-up school” and youth business forum “Лiпень.PRO”.

Volha is an active member of the Minsk debating society where young people meet and debate on various political, economic and cultural topics. Volha and her colleagues are aiming at promoting a culture of debate as one of the most important and effective ways of disseminating and teaching democratic values.

As part of the ESSYB programme, Volha was able to get funding for her project “Human Rights: Debate training in Minsk”, a project where debate seminars were conducted in a format similar to the one used in the British parliament – the so called Chatham House Rule format. During Volha’s training seminars, participants were engaged in debating games related to some of the rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights such as the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to education.

The training seminars were arranged primarily for members of the Minsk debating society, however, everyone was invited to come and sit in the audience and enjoy the debates. With her project Volha wishes to raise awareness about the Minsk debating society, attract new members to the association as well as improve Belarusians’ debating skills in general.

Subscribe to our Youtube channel and share Volha’s story with others.