Editorial Team

India’s largest online inter-school public speaking event Notebook Zero Hour powered by Stayfree®️ and in partnership with Save The Children Foundation has successfully come to an end with the Indian Languages School from Lagos, Nigeria emerging as winners, the finals were between them and Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer.

Notebook Zero Hour was conducted in search of the Best Debating Talent across India, Middle East and Africa.

In its first edition this year, the online debates commenced, in a league format with 64 marquee schools from India and abroad ready to face off against each other. The initial face-off saw 12 schools proceeding to the quarter-finals of which 4 winners proceeded to participate in the semi-finals followed by finals between Indian Languages School, Lagos and Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer.

The title of the debate for the finals was ‘Populism Is An Impediment to Development’ where one student from each school was For and Against the topic. The finals were evaluated by six diverse judges who are experts in their field, Goutham Shivshanker, Advocate-on-Record, Supreme Court, Qualified Solicitor, England & Wales; Kashyap Gala, Category Head, Johnson & Johnson; Madhura Kapdia, Director Campaign and Communications, Save the Children, India; Dr Gunmeet Bindra ( Former principal Welham Boys School, Dehradun ); Priyanka Pani, Senior Regional Correspondent, MEA, IBIS Intelligence and Philip Burrett, Ex-Deputy Headmaster, The Doon School. All the debates including the finals were moderated by Subhayu Roy, Co-Founder, Notebook.

Achin Bhattacharyya, Founder and CEO, Notebook

Speaking about this initiative, Mr Achin Bhattacharyya, Founder and CEO, Notebook, said, “We at Notebook are very happy at the kind of enthusiastic response that Zero hour has got from the student and teacher community where we witnessed more than 30,000 people attending Zero hour during the past few weeks. We sincerely thank Stayfree®️ and Save the Children for supporting our cause of celebrating the art of public speaking in students from all socio-economic strata. I am very optimistic about the quality of public discourse in the years to come considering the kind of passion, intellect, maturity and confidence that we have seen in our young debaters including those from small towns and rural areas. At Notebook, my team and I have taken a pledge to continuously engage with the student community as with an ever-increasing user base of more than a million, they are the very purpose of our existence. We will soon come up with other engaging activities which will help in keeping the morale of our school children high during this crucial phase of the pandemic.”

Sharing their joy, Mrs Sonali Gupta, Principal of Indian Languages School from Lagos said, “Team Notebook has been proactive in this current pandemic scenario by organizing numerous webinars for educators across the globe. The topics always highlight challenges faced by Students, Parents and Teachers, which are aptly addressed by eminent personalities and leaders from the Education sector. The idea of an online debate was unique. To conduct an International Competition with such high standards is a humongous task. Notebook has achieved this stupendous task, with perfection paying close attention to each aspect. Throughout the competition, students have been continuously motivated by their team. The Notebook craze has caught up in Lagos, with teachers, students and parents glued to the internet during the debate competitions. Also, more and more teachers and students are turning to the Notebook site for assistance with the study material. The videos are prepared to pay attention to all parts of the lesson, yet are interesting enough and easy to comprehend. As Notebook continues to grow, we applaud their efforts and congratulate them once again on the colossal success of the ‘Zero Hour Debate’.

Ms.Kanchan Khandke, Principal of Mayo College Girls’ School said, “We congratulate the entire Notebook team for injecting novelty in the field of debating. We express our good wishes as the experience was undoubtedly enjoyable. Our girls have perhaps broken all records in the past, in terms of their own performance and there cannot be better learning than that. The challenges of the topic and the articulate opposition have helped them hone their skills further. We thank Notebook for the opportunity!”

The winners Megha Gopikuttan and Sougandhika Peri were awarded 12 months of subscription to Notebook and Time Magazine, an internship with Save The Children and Amazon Gift Cards worth INR 30,000. The runners up, Tanushree Gupta and Sanidhi Singh received a 12 months subscription to Notebook and Time Magazine and Amazon Gift Cards worth INR 10,000. Senior Supreme Court advocate Rana Mukherjee promised the students for an internship after and if they graduate in Law.

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