Southern African Development Community Secondary Schools Essay Competition Winners for 2022 announced

The national top three winners of the SADC 2022 Secondary Schools Essay Competition were recently announced. Mpho Mokulubete (Christian Progressive College) from the Gauteng Province was in first place receiving US $500; Siboniseni Mlalazi (Orange Farm Secondary School), also from the Gauteng Province was in 2nd place, receiving US $300; and Masego Mawela (JM Ntsime Secondary School) from the North-West Province was in third place, receiving US $200. In addition, Siboniseni Mlalazi and Mpho Mokulubete were amongst the top 10 winners in the regional leg of the competition. The two learners were awarded certificates from the Secretariat.

The annual Competition was established in 1996 to encourage youth participation and integration in the Region. The essay topic for 2022 was, “How can SADC boost productive capacities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic?” The topic was derived from the 41st Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government hosted by the Republic of Malawi in Lilongwe on 17 August 2021, which is: “Bolstering Productive Capacities in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic for Inclusive, Sustainable, Economic and Industrial Transformation”. The vision of SADC is to create a common future within a regional community that will ensure the economic well-being and the improvement of the standards of living and equality of the freedom and social justice, peace and security for the people of Southern Africa.

A panel of DBE officials from the Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring Branch assisted with the adjudication process and selected the best three essays from South Africa, which were subsequently submitted to the SADC Secretariat for the regional leg of the competition through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Prize money of US $1,000 was allocated to each country.

Mpho Mokulubete, winner of the Competition, said that, “I was encouraged by my parents to face my fear by entering the Competition, whilst doing what I really enjoy. I found out about the Competition from a digital poster that was shared by my English teacher via a school WhatsApp group chat. My research covered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and education sectors on the economy. I have also learnt that countries across the globe need to work together to prevent future pandemics. I would encourage anyone who intends to enter the Competition to always have faith in themselves and to never give up, even when the pressure is on. I will spend my winnings by spoiling my parents, as well as buying essentials for school. I am currently completing Grade11 at the Christian Progressive College in Pretoria. The Competition has showed me how important it is for to believe in myself, especially when everything seems impossible. I believe the Competition has helped me to improve my writing skills, as well as my vocabulary”.

Sibongiseni Mlalazi, second prize winner maintained that, she entered the Competition with the intention of testing her limits; to challenge herself; and to gain knowledge about the topic. “I entered so I could express my views and opinions about the challenges facing the Region. My English teacher encouraged me to enter the Competition. I learned about the different sectors that were impacted by the pandemic, and realised the strain that our healthcare workers, front-line workers, Government, and the Department of Science and Innovation were under. I would strongly advise any learner who wishes to enter the Competition, to give it a try; however, they must test their limits and keep in mind that it is not all about winning, but the experience that makes the challenge worthwhile. My wishes are to use only half of my winnings; I will purchase new equipment for my business, and spoil myself a little. In addition, I will save the other half towards my university tuition if I am unable to acquire a bursary. I am currently completing Grade 10 at Orange Farm Secondary School. The Competition has taught me a lot about myself. It reawakened my love for writing and I learned to think outside the box, to be creative, and to conduct my research thoroughly. It has left me enthusiastic to enter more writing competitions. I also quite enjoyed the topic, which initially was quite challenging. I would like to express my gratitude to the organisers of the Competition and for giving us the opportunity to participate. A special thanks to them!”

Masego Mawela, third place winner, entered the Competition because she wanted to test her writing skills and prove to herself that she could succeed. “I learnt about the Competition through our Oral History and Moot Court coordinator at school, who posted it on our group chat, and then encouraged me to enter. I have learnt that COVID-19 attacked us and our health department who did all they could to stop the pandemic; this has tested our innovative thinking skills across the globe. I am going to open a fixed account and save the money for my studies in the coming years. I am currently completing Grade 11 at JM Ntsime Secondary School, doing Mathematics and Science. I learned to trust myself as a bold, hardworking go-getter. I learned that I do not give up easily and that I can do anything if I am given a chance and put my mind to it”.

The 2023 leg of the Competition is open and learners are encouraged to participate.

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