Pupils from schools in rural areas emerged tops in a national essay writing contest Pwani Oil Products Limited, through its Sawa soap brand
Over 23,000 pupils from 11,300 public primary schools across the 47 counties participated.
The competition dubbed “Colors in Life” aimed at sharpening creative writing and thinking skills among pupils in Standard 6 and 7 and ran from July 1 to 31.
Five essays were shortlisted from each of the 47 counties and the best five nationally picked by a panel of 20 judges drawn from Pwani Oil, Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (KEPSHA), Shujaaz Inc., and two external judges, Shiko Nguru, a children’s author and popular musician Vivian Wambui also known as Vivian Kenya.
Mwongeli Mulwa of ACK Mtito Andei School (Makueni), Denise Nguhi of Machakos Primary School (Machakos), Mitchele Rono of Chepketeret Primary School (Elgeyo Marakwet), Moi Tambach Primary School’s Melvin Koech (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Milimani Primary School’s Emmanuel Okinyi (Migori) emerged the top five winners nationally.
They proved the creative writing mettle of learners from schools in remote parts of the country.
The five were feted at a ceremony held in Mombasa today and attended by representatives of schools from across the country at an event presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha graced by his Tourism counterpart, Najib Balala.
The five winners will be rewarded with an educational tour of the coastal region including first-hand experience of Pwani Oil’s Kikambala Plant, the largest soap and edible oil manufacturing facility in East and Central Africa. They also received certificates, trophies and assorted gifts.
Pwani Oil supported the initiative while Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (KEPSHA) assisted with mobilizing participation across all the counties and overseeing the adjudication process in partnership with the Ministry of Education.
Prof. Magoha hailed the initiative saying it will help sharpen creative writing and critical thinking skills among learners.
“Shaping responsible citizens of the future must begin with producing learners who can think critically and express themselves in creative, innovative ways. This is the only way we can become a Nation of innovators and problem solvers,” said Prof Magoha.
Pwani Oil Commercial Director Rajul Malde says the competition’s primary aim was to offer a platform for the pupils to portray the best side of life creatively.
“Creative writing is one way of helping children understand the world we live in by giving them a voice to express their ideas and thoughts, a platform to explore their talents and imagine limitless life’s possibilities, even during these tough times,” said Malde during the ceremony to announce the winners.
He cited research conducted by the National Literacy Trust in the UK singling out creative writing as playing an important role in supporting the wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We aspired through this competition, to inspire our children to recreate the world they live in through written expression. This was not just a writing competition but also an opportunity for participants to share their ideas and personal journeys with the world,” said Malde.
KEPSHA National Chairman Johnson Nzioka hailed the initiative saying it would go a long way in improving the education standards in Kenya.
“The contest not only helped strengthen the value of accumulating knowledge to improve writing skills and creative thinking, but also earned the participants recognition beyond the classroom. This is what the new learning curriculum is all about, that is, teaching children to be all around, especially in their areas of God-given talents,” said Nzioka.
Creative expression is seen as an important aspect of nurturing responsible citizens capable of contributing positive ideas to society. Malde disclosed the essay writing competition will be held annually to appreciate the writing talents of pupils across the country.
Malde said the competition theme is based on the Sawa brand philosophy of “Bringing colors to life” which is about inspiring positive elements in people’s lives. Launched in 2008, Sawa has since grown to be the second most popular bathing soap brand in Kenya, also available as hand wash and body wash.
KEPSHA is the representative body for over 26,000 head teachers in all the public primary schools in Kenya.