JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Students are being encouraged to write a 2,500 word essay.
  • Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer expressing confidence that it will help to strengthen the country’s democratic values.
  • She urged them to use the appropriate channels to garner the information to write critical pieces.

The island’s high school students are being encouraged to participate in this year’s Access to Information (ATI) National High School Essay Competition.

The competition, which is in its fifth year, is open to registered high school students between third and sixth forms.

Students are being encouraged to write a 2,500 word essay on the topic: ‘The Access to Information Act (2002) is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice, to effectively monitor and hold government accountable, and to enter into informed dialogue about decisions which affect their lives. Discuss’. The deadline for submission is January 31, 2014.

Speaking at the launch of the competition at the Office of the Prime Minister, on Tuesday, September 24, Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, encouraged the full participation of young people, expressing confidence that it will help to strengthen the country’s democratic values.

She urged them to use the appropriate channels to garner the information to write critical pieces of work.

“It is important that this new generation, which has so much access to the internet, and the possibility exist for wrong information, for you to get the information from the right sources. Most of the government agencies, ministries and departments have websites and information officers, from where you can get information,” she said.

She further urged high school teachers, administrators and students to fully engage themselves in the competition, which will not only serve to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills, but the knowledge of areas of governance which will make them better future citizens.

Persons are encouraged to send entries to: Access to Information Unit, 5-9 South Odeon Avenue, Kingston 10, by email to: ati@cwjamaica.com or call 968-8282 for additional information. Persons may also visit the Unit’s website at: www.ati.gov.jm.

The contest is sponsored by the ATI Unit and the ATI Advisory Stakeholders Committee, and is designed to give Jamaican youth the opportunity to become more aware of the Access to Information Act (2002).

It also aims to: encourage academic excellence among high school students in the area of English Language; get youth interested in governance issues and issues of national importance; get students to appreciate the value of the Access to Information Act (2002) as a research tool; and for students to learn more about and explore the ATI Act (2002) through research.

The ATI Act gives all citizens the legal right to see and get copies of official documents held by Government bodies.

Citizens may also ask for personal information to be changed if it is incomplete, misleading, out of date or incorrect.