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A total of 11 students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels were presented with awards for outstanding essays, posters and photographs, during the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) 2020 Heritage Competition Awards ceremony on Wednesday (December 23).

The made-for-television event was broadcast on television and social media platforms.

Drawing inspiration from the National Pledge, this year’s competition was held under the theme: ‘I Promise to Stand Up For Justice, Brotherhood and Peace’. Finalists were selected from 96 submissions from students across the island.

The category winners were Amani Shrouder from Morgan’s Pass Primary School in Clarendon (essay); Akishma Payne from the Hampton School in St. Elizabeth (poster); and Olivia Gordon from The Mico University College in Kingston (photography).

They were awarded cash prizes, weekend getaways, smartphones, free courses, gift baskets, trophies, plaques and certificates, among other things in recognition of their achievement.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who delivered the keynote address, commended the JIS for providing a platform where young people can add their voices to discussions on national issues through the staging of its annual competition.

He said that the initiative plays an important role in encouraging students to think about matters that are important to the country’s progress and to express their ideas about Jamaica’s heritage and identity and their vision of the future of the nation.

The Prime Minster congratulated “the bright and talented students, who rose to the challenge in researching and creating entries of a high quality,” noting that they have shown “an excellent grasp of important national and global issues and the challenges we must surmount as we look to a harmonious future”.

“I am proud to see that our young people have established themselves as bold advocates, who are willing to take on tough issues and to be the change they want to see. This is the kind of spirit that builds individual and national character and I am proud that our youth are using the platforms available them to champion causes and effect change,” the Prime Minister said.

Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, in her presentation, commended the winners and other participants, who responded to the call for entries despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

She reiterated the agency’s commitment to promoting Jamaica’s heritage and the importance of including the voice of the youth in issues of national development.

“We want to engage the student demographic in discussions about Jamaica, our history and our future. We believe that national discussions should not be done over the heads of the young people. We must involve them by giving them a seat at the table to allow them to help determine the kind of future they will experience in Jamaica,” Mrs. Rowe noted.

She thanked the planning committee, judges and sponsors for making the awards, which is in its 10th year, a success.

Students at the primary level were required to write a 400 to 500 word essay based on a Jamaican from the past or an institution that exemplifies the theme from the National Pledge and say why.

Submissions were judged based on relevance to the topic, originality, accuracy and analysis of research data, writing style and language skills. At least one of the references should have been made to a JIS source.

Students at the secondary level, using this year’s theme, were required to submit poster entries in graphic design or illustration.

They were asked to design posters 11 x 17 inches (landscape or portrait) which included no other image but those provided on the JIS website. Posters were judged on interpretation of the topic, originality, neatness and presentation.

Meanwhile, the photography category targeted students attending an accredited tertiary institution. Submissions were judged based on understanding of the topic, originality, composition, technique and impact.

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