Writing at Rwinkwavu Community Library

Getting young people’s voices heard

6th December 2017 | Blog

The 2018 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is now open for submissions!

The competition offers all Commonwealth youth the opportunity to express their hopes for the future, their opinions on the present and thoughts on the past.

This year, the organisers are particularly keen to hear from talented young African writers of all backgrounds – such as those in your schools and libraries!

Here, Coral Fleming from the Royal Commonwealth Society tells us more about the awards and why you should encourage your readers to take part:


Can you tell us a little bit about the awards?

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is used by individuals and teachers to build confidence, develop writing skills, support creativity and encourage critical thinking, using literacy to empower young people to become global citizens.


A young writer in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
A young writer in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. Young people from all walks of life are encouraged to enter the competition.


The competition is open to all citizens and residents 18 and under from Commonwealth countries and to residents of Zimbabwe. That means if you are under 18 and from Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe, this competition is for you!

Not everyone can win – what are the benefits of entering for those who don’t win?

This competition is a fantastic way for pupils to develop their writing skills outside of schoolwork. We guarantee that every young writer who submits their entry correctly will have their piece read by a judge somewhere in the Commonwealth and will receive a Certificate of Participation.


2017 participants in Nigeria
Everyone who enters the competition will receive a Certificate of Participation, like these students at Abesan Junior College in Nigeria


You will also have the chance to win a Gold, Silver or Bronze Award (which will be shown on your Certificate) – a great confidence boost and perfect for job or further education applications.

Why are you so keen to have entrants from Africa?

The talent of African writers is undeniable; from Kenya’s Grace Ogot to Sierra Leone’s Ishmael Beah, there are so many amazing authors out there.

Every writer started out as a young person with thoughts in their head, dreams in their heart and a pen in their hand. We want to take the African potential and turn it into the next generation of brilliant writers. We want to be part of that journey.

The 2017 awards ceremony took place recently, can you tell us a bit about it?

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition Awards Ceremony was held at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 21st November. Our four 2017 winners from across the Commonwealth were Annika from Australia, Ariadna from Canada, Hiya from India and Ry from London.


2017 winners
The 2017 winners were presented with their certificates by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Photo credit: Fergus Burnett


HRH The Duchess of Cornwall presented the winners with their certificates along with their prizes – more than ten books each, generously donated by award winning authors! David Walliams, Anne Fine OBE, Zen Cho and Gyles Brandreth read excerpts of the winning poems and stories alongside the presentation.

The 2018 competition is now open. How can young writers get involved?

After a successful Awards Ceremony we are delighted to launch the 2018 Competition – on the theme of Towards a Common Future. If you like to write and want to share your take on current affairs, click here for more information about the competition and how to enter.


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