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This year, for the first time in the history of the National Child Month Committee (NCMC) essay competition, winners in all categories will also vie for prizes for the best oral presentation of their entry.
The prizes are being awarded by Lecturer and Communications Consultant, Fae Ellington, who made good on her expression of commitment last year, by announcing her support for the annual competition, at the weekly JIS ‘Think Tank’, held at its offices on Half-Way Tree Road in Kingston on March 11.
“What I want is for most of our young people to understand the importance of having a good command of standard received English. It is not sufficient for them to be able to just read and write it, but they must be able to speak it,” she remarked.
She said there was a need to encourage students to speak the language and the essay competition offered such an opportunity. The three winners in each of the four age categories will be required to record their essays on one try in a radio studio and will be assessed on articulation by Ms. Ellington and two other judges.
“I hope to open an account, which I hope that they [students] will use for educational purposes. I want to partner with Jamaica Money Market Brokers [JMMB],” she said, adding that further details will have to be worked out as most of the winners will be minors, requiring guardianship.
Ms. Ellington also took her commitment a step further. “I would like to say to each winner of each category that if they can maintain an overall 95 per cent average, I will put another $5,000 in next year. However, the schools will have to make copies of their reports available so that I can see that I am in fact supporting someone who is really working hard,” she stressed.
She emphasized that students needed to be well rounded when operating within a globalized world. “Wherever you are in the world, you need to understand that you must have a command of the language. Somehow we may not be where we want to be or need to be, with this understanding, so I am pushing that,” she said.
“Please do not misunderstand me, I chat the Jamaican language and ‘mi’ love it, but I am saying that we need to have the same competency with standard received English as we have with our Jamaican language,” Ms. Ellington clarified.
Outlining other key elements of the essay competition, which is currently underway, Co-ordinator and Vice Chair of the NCMC, Sandrea Long-White said that each category in the competition has a different focus. For the 6-9 years group, entries should look at the topic, ‘Investing in our Children’, while the work of students aged 10-12 years should reflect on the matter of ‘Children: Our Nation Builders’.
Entrants 13-15 years old will focus on ‘Managing Our Children for Future Development’ and the issue, ‘Children: Worth More than Money’ will be explored by older students between 16 and 18 years.All work should be submitted in the handwriting of the entrant and a completed entry form must accompany all entries.
A panel of judges will assess all submissions based on relevance to topic, originality of expression, creativity and grammar. Winners will receive cash awards and certificates.
In the meantime, the NCMC poster competition is running concurrently with the essay competition, under the theme for Child Month (May), ‘Our Children: Today’s Investment, Tomorrow’s Gain.’
The competition is divided into three categories: 6-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years and, entrants are invited to submit their work on 9″x12″ to 11″x 17″ cartridge paper, accompanied by a completed entry form.
The poster should also reflect how the entrant interprets the theme. They can be guided by their understanding of what it is to invest in the nation’s children; managing children for future development and looking at children as nation builders.
Entries will be judged on adherence to the theme, originality, creativity and visual effectiveness. There will be cash awards and trophies, in addition to summer programme scholarships at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, which has been partnering with the competition for the past two years.
Mrs. Long-White said the aim of both competitions, which are the first in a series of activities organized annually for Child Month, is to give the nation’s children an opportunity to voice their concerns about what is happening generally in society and give them an outlet to creatively express their thoughts and concerns.
“Whatever we do as adults, impact on them and what they will become tomorrow,” she said.
The responses to the competition have been good for the past two years. According to Mrs. Long-White, this is particularly manifested in the quality of entries submitted. “We see that our children have some issues and they want to express their opinion and we are glad for the opportunity to hear and see what they have to say,” she said.
The deadline for all entries is April 18 and all submissions must be sent to Mrs. Sandrea Long-White, Vice Chair of the National Child Month Committee, c/o Rural Services for Children with Disabilities, 191 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 8. For further information, persons are invited to contact the NCMC at 931-4584 or 941-6950.