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Champions! An Islamic secondary school came out winners in a Hong Kong’s debating competition

Empowering our youth with a diverse set of skills is the goal of every society. For Muslims, it ought to be too and in some communities, it is more than just a chore, it’s an obligation and an act of worship within the Islamic teachings.

One of Hong Kong’s Islamic school, Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College (IKTMC) continues to do just that and it consistently has been savouring the sweet fruits of the seeds the teachers, the students and even the parents have been planting.

IKTMC Junior Secondary Debate Team graciously took part in the 2018-2019 Hong Kong Secondary Schools Debating Competition (HKSSDC). The team was part of the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Division One in this illustrious competition.

They out-shone from amongst the 300 schools that participated and came out as champions. Alhumdulilah!

The competition spanned from September, 2018 to January, 2019 across various schools, including renowned schools such as Marymount Secondary School. Here is what some of the students, the teacher in charge and the school principal had to say as Muslim Council of Hong Kong spoke to them.

Students interviewed included Aqsa Ahmed, Basmer Hassan Awadh and Zachrain Nayyara Ayudya, while the teacher in charge of the debate team was Mr. Hassan Shah and the school principal is Ms. Zareenah Ho.

#1. How do you feel?

The students said words such as,

“Very happy, Alhumdulilah!”, “Happy and blessed.” and “I feel very happy! It is such an honour to bring a good name and honour to our school!”

Mr. Hassan also stated he is “Alhumduliah overjoyed”, whilst Ms. Ho had a few more words to say,

“As a principal, I would be the happiest person to see my children excelling in such a wonderful way. Their outstanding performance has once again demonstrated that IKTMC is an institution which focuses on whole-person development of our students, both academic and non-academic areas.

I am simply overwhelmed and proud of my students and teachers. We will continue to maintain and further enhance our tradition of excellence.”

#2. Did you really think your team could achieve this amazing result?

Basmer and Zachrain didn’t really think they could as they said, “To be honest, I never thought we would win but I’m really happy we did!” and

“I personally do not think we can achieve this, because all our competitors were very strong.”

However, Aqsa, a Form 4 student, was confident from the start, “Yes, I believe gradually my team could achieve this result because we worked and practiced very hard for it.

#3. What do you think are the factors and strategies that contributed towards this success?

Mr. Hassan Shah claimed there were a number of them, including a few pizzas,

“Constant practice, extensive research and reading, watching and analysing different public speakers speeches, and instant speaking drills on daily relevant topics were some of the strategies I employed.

Furthermore, I made sure that the team remain focussed and was constantly working hard. The morale was kept high through positive encouragement and (not) infrequent pizza parties.”

For the students, they had these words,

Aqsa: “Hard work, plus our teachers’ support: they would constantly be working alongside us.

We would also spend a lot of time in practice during recess, lunch and even after school till evening!”

Basmer: “I’d say a combination of hard work, determination and a lot of teamwork.”

“IKTMC, an Islamic school, was key to my success”, says Max Wong, a non-Muslim Chinese awarded as Ten Outstanding Young Persons 2017

Zachrain: “Teamwork is really needed for debate as we need to help each other come up with counter-arguments (rebuttals). Practice is also very important. We practiced a lot and our teacher gave us constant feedback in school and also on WhatsApp, so we continued to practice at home!”

Ms. Zareenah Ho similarly gave the success down to a number of factors,

“Our teacher worked really hard with our younger debaters. We always stimulate our students to excel. Regular training and various confidence boosting strategies were employed.

Our students know and cherish that their teachers are always very helpful and the school highly appreciates their achievements and thus they work hard to excel.”

#4. Were there any challenges?

For this question, Mr. Hassan stated,

“We were new to the debate circuit, so getting familiar with the norms was challenging.

At the start, logistics was also an issue as most trainings were conducted after school.”

#5. What’s your message to other ethnic minority students in Hong Kong?

A variety of meaningful pointers given by all five interviewees.

Zachrain: “Do not think that because you are different from the majority, you cannot be successful. Don’t be afraid to try something new and never feel embarrassed because you are an EM.

Your difference makes you special!”

Basmer: “Never give up on what you want to achieve. Even though you can’t succeed initially don’t let anything pull you down. For example in my first ever debate last year, I could not rebut the opponents and I broke down into tears because I felt so nervous!

But now I have gained a lot of confidence and In shaa Allah nothing can stop me in the future!”

Aqsa: “I would encourage all of you to start debating! Initially, it is very difficult and you feel so nervous, but now my confidence and general knowledge has increased. I am able to express my thoughts clearly and contribute effectively in class discussions, especially in Liberal Studies and English!”

Mr. Shah: “First of all, trust in Allah. Then trust in yourself and work hard. Extremely extremely hard. Leave no stone unturned. Remember, there is NO shortcut to success, and a failure is just a stepping stone. Treat it as such, learn from it and move on. Have a goal, and keep your eyes fixed on it.

Remember, all of you have the potential to be a huge asset for Hong Kong and the world, In shaa Allah!”

Several IKTMC Hong Kong Muslim Students attain the top 5** and 5* levels at HKDSE exams

Principal Ho: “EM students have a natural talent and confidence in public speaking. I would urge all EM students to read more books and manage their time well.

Hong Kong is offering ever increasing avenues and opportunities to EM students and I can anticipate that EM youth will be a growing asset for Hong Kong workforce in the years to come.

After this landmark victory against top schools, we have received an immense amount of appreciation from parents and the wider community.

The news of our victory spread a lot due to the vibrant social media these days and I believe it has really uplifted the motivation and confidence level of EM students in Hong Kong.

We are expecting an increasing number of EM students to perform well in different curricular and co-curricular competitions.

Everyone at MCHK, the Muslim community in Hong Kong and worldwide are truly proud of this achievement of our youth and hope nothing but the best for all of our youth academically and Islamically by the guidance and mercy of Allah.

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Written by Adeel Malik

Born in Hong Kong, grew up in Scotland and ethnically Pakistani, Adeel primes himself to be a multicultural individual who is an advent social media user for the purpose of learning and propagating Islam while is also a sports fan. Being an English teacher himself, he envisions a bright future for Muslims which he strongly believes can only be done with education.

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