Komunikacijske vještine

Theoretical background

Speech structure

As I presented in the description of the practical class, the impromptu debate structure includes as follows: introduction, self-introduction, the topic elaboration and asking the question, giving arguments in favour of the answer A and in favour of the answer B, discussion and conclusion. The following table shows in detail the structure of each element generally and with examples.

Element of speech Structure Example
Introduction Introduction should clearly present the topic of the speech and briefly set it in a broader social context. The following speech deals with the issue of free education. The topic is very complex as the spheres of private and public life of each of us are intermingled in it.
Self-introduction When introducing oneself, the speaker should provide the audience with personal information relevant for the topic of the speech. All other personal information, no matter how important they seem to the speaker, should be skipped. My name is Petar Jandrić, I am 35, employed as a senior lecturer at the Polytechnic of Zagreb. I graduated from the faculty when the university education was free, but I had to pay fees or get a scholarship to receive my Master and Doctoral degree. So, the topic is relevant to me in two ways – personally, since I am still paying off the loan for the recently finished post-graduate studies; and professionally, because I work as a senior lecturer at the faculty.
The topic elaboration and asking the question In the topic elaboration, it is necessary to clearly comprehend the scope and the depth of the issue. At the end of the elaboration, a single thesis should be put forward, with a question to which a clear answer can be given.


The issue of the higher education fees is known to anyone who studied, who is going to study or has a family member studying or going to study. Due to a large increase in the number of students in Croatia in the past decade, we can say that higher education fees have direct impact on the majority of Croatian citizens.

Society in which everyone has equal opportunity in education is drastically different from a society in which only the elite groups have access to education. The term elite groups, first of all, refers to the rich who can pay for their studying, and the talented who can get a scholarship. Furthermore, education is in direct interrelationship with economy which means that decisions on the number and social structure of graduates have direct impact on the entire society.

In a democratic society, all citizens have the equal right to decide on its future. Accordingly, those who have never studied nor do they have any students in family, have as much right to speak about the issue of free education as the students, their parents, children and spouses.

Based on these grounds we ask the following question: Should education in Croatia be free?

Arguments in favour of the answer A While elaborating the arguments, particular attention should be paid to their logical structure (arguments should be logically connected), emotional message (arguments should be emotionally close to the audience) and value message (arguments should contain values generally accepted by the audience).

It is important to uniformly address the arguments in favour of both sides – to spend equal amount of time on each of them, with equal commitment and equal consideration.

More on the argument structure can be learnt here.

The arguments in favour of free education can be divided into several categories. Let us first consider the human rights argument. We all agree that elementary education is human right – the very reason why it is compulsory and free for all Croatian citizens. However, does elementary school provide adequate knowledge and skills for a student to cope successfully in information society? If it is really true, why do vast majority of those who finish the elementary school continue with their education? On these grounds, it seems that there is a justified reason for expanding the definition of schooling as human right beyond the elementary school level. Regarding the requirements that young people of today have to meet all the way till their retirement, the definition should be expanded to the level of graduating from university.

Further on, let us consider the argument of social justice. Imagine two girls, secondary school leavers, who have finished school with the same grades. One comes from a rich and the other from a poor family. Let us say, the first one successfully graduates from a faculty, while the other never enters one due to the lack of money. On average, people with a university degree earn more money than people with no more than a high school diploma. So, the school leaver from the rich family will make more money, the other one, from the poor family, less. Social inequalities thus expand through generations. Such manner of expanding social injustice is not fair since no child is responsible for the earnings of the family in which he or she was born into, and therefore education should be free.

At the end, let us take a look at the economic argument in favour of the claim that higher education should be free. It is known that overall income of a company, region and state is in direct correlation with educational structure of the population. In brief, the more educated citizens, the richer society. In order to raise the competence level of the citizens in the long run, all the people without exception should be enabled to get free education. That investment will pay off handsomely.

Arguments in favour of the answer B  

While elaborating the arguments, particular attention should be paid to their logical structure (arguments should be logically connected), emotional message (arguments should be emotionally close to the audience) and value message (arguments should contain values generally accepted by the audience).

It is important to uniformly address the arguments in favour of both sides – to spend equal amount of time on each of them, with equal commitment and equal consideration.

More on the argument structure can be learnt here.

Let us now take a look at the arguments in favour of the claim that higher education should not be free. They, too, can be divided into several categories. In accord with the previous argumentation line, let us first take a look at the human rights argument. We will all agree that food and drink are elementary human rights. This attitude was long ago confirmed by the Geneva Convention, too. But, does it mean that a hungry person can enter the first shop and take food for free? Of course not! Entering the shop and taking food without paying for it has unambiguous name: theft. That fact does not mean that human rights are not observed. There are kitchens for the poor where people in need can have a meal, therefore we can claim that nobody is hungry in today’s society, Analogously, we hold that higher education should not be free. Education is human right, but there are various means such as scholarships and contracts with future employers that make possible to respect that human right in a proper way. Consequently, there is no reason for free higher education.

Let us move for a moment from a defensive attitude, namely from responding to the opponents’ arguments, and let us introduce a new argument into discussion. In the past 50-odd years Croatia’s higher education was free. And what happened? People entered university for all sorts of reasons completely unrelated to desire for learning but rather connected with intention to obtain the students’ rights and the resulting benefits: health insurance, possibility to work via the student jobs service, to have meals in student canteens… As a result, an average student studied for a long period of time, and many of them never graduated. The costs of every year of studying per student are enormous. Due to free university studying the state budget was burdened with high costs which never resulted in any good for the society. On the other side, the students paying university fee are motivated in many ways. They are aware of the amounts they have to pay, so they work hard to graduate as soon as possible. Duration of their studying is considerably shorter and the percentage of the students graduating is much higher. On these grounds we come to the conclusion that the studying which has to be paid for is much more efficient than the one that is free.

Finally, let us view education as an investment. As mentioned, those who have graduated from a faculty make on average substantially more money then those who have not. Therefore, we can wonder why should the state invest into someone’s private benefit? If a person is to profit from his/her studying, it is only fair that (s)he invests his/her own money. Free studying actually encourages social inequalities: just as nobody else will invest into your house or flat, there is no reason for the state to invest into your education.

Discussion Discussion should carefully evaluate the arguments of both sides. The arguments need to be individually viewed from all points and compared when necessary.

It is important to emphasise that in the discussion it is not the final decision that needs to be brought but rather the arguments that only need to be analysed. If we provide the answer too soon, the listeners will lose interest in the rest of the speech.

Let us consider the arguments in favour of both claims. Both the proponents and the opponents of free education agree that higher education is an economic investment which pays off. However, the free education proponents look at that investment at the level of the entire state, while the opponents look at it at the individual level. Considering both arguments, we can notice that both are true: at the individual level, it is indeed an individual investment into the personal benefit, while at the state level the education indeed raises the overall standard of all of us.

Furthermore, let us take a look at the arguments in the field of human rights. Proponents of free higher education claim that elementary school is not sufficient for achieving success in modern society, so the concept of education as a human right should be extended all the way to the higher education. On the other side, opponents of free higher education claim that human rights can be achieved in other ways as well, namely that it is not necessary to provide everyone with free higher education in order to observe human rights. Let us for a moment take a look at the situation in Croatian society. Indeed, the best and/or especially talented students may be offered a scholarship by the state bodies or private companies. Yet, we’ll all agree that the number of offered scholarships is not enough to meet the needs of all capable and highly motivated people who want to study. Simply put, we have more A-grade students than scholarships. The question that imposes itself is: who deserves free education? If we agree with the claim that small, elite groups of students deserve free education while the others should pay for theirs, we will side with the opponents of free education. If we opt for the idea that free higher education should be accessible to wider mass of people, we will take the side of the free education supporters.

At the end let us take a look at the argument of the higher education efficiency. Opponents of free education hold that it is less efficient than the education for which the tuition fees have to be paid, while supporters of free education claim the opposite. The arguments above do not contain enough facts for an informed decision to be reached, so we leave that open.

Conclusion In conclusive speech the arguments of both sides should be set in the common context, and their scope and strength compared. On these grounds the arguments should in a natural way lead to the conclusion.

The conclusion should contain the answer to the question and be shaped along the lines of its own limits (shortness of speech, insufficient depth of the arguments), and include instructions for continuation of the discussion.

At the very end it is necessary to thank the audience for attention and encourage them to take part in discussion.

Considering the arguments of both sides, we can find out that there is a high level of similarity between them. Free education does not exist, the question is only who is going to pay it: the individual or the society. In this issue the interests of society are dialectically intermingled with the interests of individuals, so there is no unambiguous answer to that question.

On these grounds, we can conclude that free education should be provided to as many students as possible. That number needs to be limited by the arguments put forward by the opponents of free education, such as efficiency and state’s priorities.

In the end, it should certainly be pointed out that free education is a very complex issue which was tackled only on surface in this short discussion. To get a more precise answer, it is necessary to initiate a wide public debate about different aspects of interaction between education and society, and to include all social groups into that discussion.

Thank you for your attention. Do you have any questions?