Four young writers have been named as the Winners and Runners-Up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2018, selected from approximately 12,000 entries from across the five regions of the Commonwealth. The competition is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing competition. Competing in Junior and Senior categories, ROSL Director-General Diana Owen chaired the Junior panel.
Representing almost every Commonwealth country, entrants wrote on pertinent topics such as the role of education in building a fairer future, what they would do as their country’s Head of Government for the day to improve life for young people and their perfect recipe for a common future.
Senior Winner Zahra Hussain, 17, is from Lahore, Pakistan and Senior Runner-Up Ng Woon Neng, 16, is from Singapore.
Junior Winner Janine Shum, 13, is from Singapore and Junior Runner-Up Floria Gu, 13, is from Vancouver, Canada.
This year’s competition reflected the 2018 Commonwealth Theme of ‘Towards a Common Future’ and its four sub-themes of A Fairer Future, A More Sustainable Future, A More Secure Future and A More Prosperous Future which informed the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in London in April.
The Winners and Runners-Up produced highly original and thought-provoking short stories and poems on such varied topics as child marriage, the impact of environmental damage on future generations, educational inequality, and the competing concepts of Wealth, Freedom, Health and Happiness.
Entries were assessed by a pan-Commonwealth body of volunteer judges, drawn from more than 40 different countries. Judges commented on the maturity shown by many of the young writers, with entries described as ‘intelligent’, ‘impassioned’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘articulate’ and ‘beautifully written’.
The final decision was taken by an expert panel of authors, journalists and poets which included Times journalist Giles Coren and spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur, who performed at the Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey in March this year.
The four Winners and Runners-up will be flown to London later in the year to take part in ‘Winners’ Week’: a special programme consisting of cultural and educational activities. The week includes an Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace where HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will present the Winners and Runners-up with their certificates on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, and notable authors will read extracts of the winning pieces.
Dr Greg Munro, Chief Executive of The Royal Commonwealth Society said, ‘This year’s entries were of an incredibly high standard, offering insightful and inspired thoughts on a wide range of topics. It’s wonderful to see so many young people engaging with the Commonwealth through creative writing and sharing their ideas and experiences on important issues, similar to those raised at The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting earlier this year.’
Read the stories from this year's winners below.
Senior Winner: Hues of Red, Zahra Hussain, 17, Lahore, Pakistan
Senior Runner-up: An Odd Company, Ng Woon Neng, 16, Singapore
Junior Winner: Two Voices, Janine Shum, 13, Singapore
Junior Runner up: Inheritance, Floria Gu, 13, Vancouver, Canada