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Zambian Student Named Senior Runner-Up of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016

A 19- year-old Zambian student Esther Mungalaba, of Meanwood, Lusaka has been selected as the Senior Runner-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.

Four young writers have been awarded Winners and Runners-Up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016, the world’s oldest international schools writing competition. The winning essays were selected from approximately 13,500 entries spanning the five regions of the Commonwealth.

Representing nearly every Commonwealth country, entrants wrote about contemporary issues including the Syrian refugee crisis, conflict migration in Africa and finding a diasporic identity.

Senior Winner Inessa Rajah, 17, is from Durban, South Africa. Senior Runner-up Esther Mugalaba, 19, comes from Lusaka, Zambia. The Junior Winner and Runner-up, Gauri Kumar, 13, and Tan Wan Gee, 14, respectively, are both Singaporean nationals.

Entries were assessed by a pan-Commonwealth body of judges, drawn from more than 30 different countries across the globe. Judges described the entries as ‘inspirational’, ‘ambitious’, ‘profound’, ‘moving’, ‘imaginative’ and stated that ‘the future of the Commonwealth is bright’.

The four pan-Commonwealth Winners and Runners-up will attend the traditional ‘Winners Week’ in London in October of this year; a special programme consisting of cultural and educational activities. The week will culminate in 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.

The ceremony will form part of a week of cultural and educational activities in London and Cambridge, UK. The Duchess of Cornwall will be presenting the prizes on behalf of HM The Queen, Patron of the competition. The Duchess is a keen supporter of promoting literacy amongst young people and adults.

In January this year, The Zambia High Commission in London urged young Zambian people to take part in this year’s prestigious Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Schools Competition.

The annual essay competition, which is open to all Commonwealth citizens under the age of 18 years, offers young people from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to air their views and express their aspirations for the future. Each year, participants demonstrate ability to stimulate and provoke discussions about important Commonwealth and global issues from a young person’s perspective and to showcase their critical and creative skills.

The Royal Commonwealth Society said Esther’s essay was highlighted from nearly 6,500 Senior entries by a body of judges from over 30 countries, and ultimately selected by a prestigious Final Panel in London in August.

Michael Lake CBE, Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society said: “The four young people chosen as the Winners and Runners-up of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2016 represent the very best and brightest that the Commonwealth has to offer. Their essays and poems explore contemporary themes with maturity, intelligence and depth beyond their years. We are proud of them and the thousands of other young writers who entered the competition this year from all around the Commonwealth.”

Rod Smith, Managing Director of Education, Cambridge University Press: “The Royal Commonwealth Society shares our vision of empowerment through education, and we’re thrilled to be sponsoring The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition once again. The quality of the entries this year were exceptional, and all of us at Cambridge University Press would like to extend our congratulations to the winners.”

The Commonwealth Royal Commonwealth Society further said that Esther wrote a balanced and discursive essay about “Europe’s Migrant Crisis”, providing a mature assessment of the situation saying that her essay was well written and argued.

An excerpt from Esther’s essay: “This crisis is a call to our long forgotten compassionate sides. It is a call for selflessness, a very complicated concept for many including myself. It is a call to put our selfishness aside and for once, do something for others that does not seem to have anything in it for us.” Esther said: “I feel incredibly blessed”

Esther graduated from Kasisi Girls Secondary School in 2014 and is currently waiting to be accepted in the University of Zambia. She enjoys reading, writing, talking, jazz music and the idea of travelling.