Robert Nelson "Toby" R. Leung, a Grade 12 student from the Philippine Science High School - Cordillera Administrative Region (PSH-CAR), won the title as Overall Best Speaker at the World Schools Debate Championships (WSDC).
Toby averaged 73.17 speaker points across eight preliminary debate rounds and bested 372 other student participants around the world.
Among those he defeated were representatives of Canada and Singapore who are considered the "debate powerhouses".
The 2021 WSDC edition had the participation of 76 countries around the world. This year's edition marks the second consecutive time the competition has been held online through Zoom.
Macau organized and hosted this year's edition from July 26 to August 6, 2021.
Robert Nelson "Toby" R. Leung
Leung finished senior high school with the highest general weighted average in the entire Philippine Science High School System for the School Year 2020-2021 at 1.03.
The Philippine Science High School System is a research-oriented and specialized public high school system in the Philippines that operates as an attached agency of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology. The Philippine Science High School (PSHS) is considered the top science high school in the Philippines and is viewed to be among the best in the ASEAN region by 2016.
A total of 1,330 Grade 12 students from the PSHS are graduating for School Year 2020-2021. the number of graduating students is 98.08 percent of the 1,356 Grade 12 students in the 14 campuses of the PSHS System. From among the graduates, 49.55 percent are receiving academic honors, 35 or 2.63 percent are awarded highest honors, their general weighted average (GWA) in six years being between 1.0 -1.20; and 624 or 46.92 percent are receiving with high honors, their GWA being between 1-21-1.50.
Robert Nelson "Toby" R. Leung of PSHS-CAR received the highest GWA at 1.03. He finished senior high school officially on 25 May 2021, as one of the 87 Hiranglaya Batch of 2021.
Toby's awards include Excellence in English, Social Science, and Research, and he was recognized as a PSHS Leadership Awardee.
Among his achievements is their group project where they developed an artificial intelligence machine learning program that detects fractures based on x-ray, which may be likened to an image recognition software that allows identification of details on an image or photo. The project was recognized during their internal research congress.
He is also a member of the World Schools Debate Team which fought well in various tournaments, he attended the 7th Oldham Cup 2021 held on 30 April 2021 to 02 May 2021 where he was adjudged Overall Best Speaker and Best Reply Speaker, beating debaters from other countries.
First Big win of the Philippines in the WSDC
Started in 1988, the WSDC is an annual global debate competition considered the "Olympics of high school debate" by debate societies. It uses the World Schools format, the global standard for high school debating.
No Filipino has ever won or been given an award as Best Speaker in the history of the tournament - not until now. This is a great honor for the Philippines.
The 2021 Philippine team to WSDC is composed of the following high school students:
- Robert Leung, Grade 12, Philippine Science HS - Baguio campus
- David Bloom, Grade 12, International School of Manila - Taguig campus
- Jake Peralta, Grade 12, PAREF Southridge HS - Alabang campus
- Riva Fong, Grade 12, De La Salle Zobel HS - Alabang campus
- Chanel Ang, Grade 12, Immaculate Conception Academy HS - Greenhills campus
The Philippine team debated on topics about the commercialization of space, the right of Olympic athletes to protest, reducing income tax rates for women, and the Westernization of elites in post-colonial countries.
The Philippine team won the bronze medal when they reached the semifinals for the second time. Our country first got merit in 2012.
The Philippine team had 6 wins and 2 losses out of 8 preliminary rounds and finished third in the knockout rounds.
The Filipinos beat the Czech Republic in the pre-octos, India in the octofinals, and Romania in the quarterfinals to reach the semis.
Hong Kong beat them on the topic "This House supports an individual carbon credit."
Meanwhile, other members of the Philippine high school debate team were also given the best speaker awards in the 2021 WSDC edition.
David Bloom from the International School of Manila is Fourth Best Speaker; 6th Best Speaker was Jake Peralta of Southridge High School, and Riva Fong from De La Salle Zobel was the 11th Best Speaker.