In a concerted effort to curb drug abuse among the nation’s young citizens, the Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC) has opened recruitment for 25 contestants to participate in a debate titled “Prevention of Drug Use in Cambodian Youth”. The first qualification round will commence on June 25.

A press release from the YCC details the selection criteria for the competition. Aspiring participants, aged between 15 and 30, may be students, professionals, or school dropouts, as long as they are completely literate in the Khmer language.

Interested applicants are expected to show commitment to the programme and a love for social work. They should also have the capacity to join scheduled debates, both online and in person. Prior experience in formal debating is not a requirement, according to the YCC’s statement.

Promising attractive incentives, the YCC declared that the top two debaters will be awarded a trophy and cash prize. The remaining 23 finalists will be recognised with certificates and consolation prizes.

Phiek Sina, the YCC’s programme director, told The Post on June 21 that the initiative is designed to involve both school-going and dropout youths in debates aimed at fortifying public policy, particularly concerning youth drug abuse, a rampant issue leading to social challenges such as educational deficits and community violence.

“This debate on youth drug use is unprecedented. The YCC has a track record of conducting debates on diverse topics to nurture young citizens’ understanding of democratic policy. As of now, we’ve had 19 applications and we’ll be selecting 25 for the competition,” he confirmed.

According to the YCC, a preparatory training will be organised for the applicants on June 24, leading up to the first qualifying round on June 25. Ten candidates will be selected out of the 25, followed by a second qualifying round on June 26, further narrowing down the field to five semi-finalists.

Semi-finals will take place on June 27, with two candidates proceeding to the finals scheduled for June 29. The winners will receive a trophy, $200, and letters of commendation. Runners-up will also be awarded trophies, $100, and commendation letters, as per the YCC’s press release.

Sim Chandara, a student from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), has already submitted her application for the debate. She told The Post that it was her desire to improve her public speaking skills and network with others that inspired her to apply.

She believes that this initiative will enhance her understanding of the impacts of drug abuse and enable her to contribute to the nationwide effort against it.

“This programme will provide an opportunity for all candidates to share their experiences, from which I can learn. Also, considering that drug abuse has become a critical issue among Cambodian youth, we can discuss and devise effective strategies to deter children and young people from drug use,” Chandara said.