Pupils from schools in rural areas emerged tops in an essay writing contest where over 23,000 pupils from 11,300 public primary schools across the 47 counties participated.
Mwongeli Mulwa from Makueni, Denise Nguhi (Machakos), Mitchele Rono (Elgeyo Marakwet), Melvin Koech (Elgeyo Marakwet) and Emmanuel Okinyi (Migori) emerged the top five winners nationally.
The five were feted at a ceremony (which has been documented here) held in Mombasa on Monday September 20, 2021 and attended by representatives of schools from across the country at an event presided over by Education CS Prof George Magoha and also graced by his Tourism counterpart, Najib Balala.
The essay contest was sponsored by Pwani Oil Products, through its Sawa soap brand, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and the Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (KEPSHA).
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. Mwongeli from ACK Mtito Andei School, Denise (Machakos Primary School), Mitchele (Chepketeret Primary School) and Melvin (Moi Tambach Primary School), and Emmanuel (Milimani Primary School) proved the creative writing mettle of learners from schools in remote parts of the country.
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, KEPSHA, Shujaaz Inc., and two external judges, Shiko Nguru, a children’s author and popular musician Vivian Wambui also known as Vivian Kenya.
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 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 earn 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.
Pwani Oil supported the initiative while KEPSHA assisted with mobilizing participation across all the counties and overseeing the adjudication process.
The five winners will be rewarded with an educational tour of the coastal region including a 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.
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.