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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Fifteen-year-old Danielle Pritchard, is the 2013 winner of the Access to Information (ATI) National High School Essay Competition.
  • Nasharia Serinash of Glenmuir High in Clarendon, and Khanu Daley of Munro College in St. Elizabeth, received the second and third prizes respectively.
  • Director of the ATI Unit, Damian Cox, emphasised that the Act is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice.

Fifteen-year-old, fourth form student of William Knibb High School in Trelawny, Danielle Pritchard, is the 2013 winner of the Access to Information (ATI) National High School Essay Competition.

She was chosen from a pool of 15 students across seven parishes, who participated in the fifth annual competition, organised by the Access to Information Unit, and the Access to Information Advisory Stakeholder Committee, in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Nasharia Serinash of Glenmuir High in Clarendon, and Khanu Daley of Munro College in St. Elizabeth, received the second and third prizes respectively at the awards ceremony, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on April 3.

Students were asked to write essays 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.”

Underscoring the importance of the Act to the democratic process, Principal Director of the Information Division in the Office of the Prime Minister, Joanne Archibald, said everyone should exercise their right to know, in order to make informed decisions in their daily lives.

“We want knowledge and use of the ATI Act to take hold in Jamaica especially among our youth. It was for this very reason that the competition was created in 2008 to get young persons interested and excited about the Act,” she said.

She was speaking on behalf of Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer.

Meanwhile, Director of the ATI Unit, Damian Cox, emphasised that the Act is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice, and to effectively monitor and hold Government accountable.

“Our young people in particular can help to ensure that our democratic values continue to evolve for the benefit of all of us, far in the future and also to celebrate and use the right information that they possess,” he said.

Mr. Cox said the 2013 competition had more entries from schools in rural Jamaica, and that the entries as a whole, demonstrated an excellent grasp of the application of the ATI Act.

Speaking with JIS News, Danielle said winning the competition will place her school in the spotlight, and allow her to share the benefits of the Access to Information Act with her schoolmates. Danielle received a trophy and a cash prize of $50,000.

The 6th renewal of the competition, which is aimed at helping students to appreciate the value of the ATI Act as a research tool, and garnering their interest in issues of national importance, will again be launched in September.