By Omobayo Azeez
A non-governmental organization, UBA Foundation has put a sum of N4.5 million on ground for the winners of its National Essay Competition 2019 with a promise also to reward schools with highest entries for the contest.
The foundation which is the corporate social responsibility arm of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, commenced the 2019 edition of the annual National Essay Competition in Nigeria with a call for entries.
Now in its 9th year, the essay competition, targeted at senior secondary school students in Nigeria is organised annually, as part of UBA Foundation’s education initiative which is aimed at promoting reading culture and encouraging healthy and intellectual competition amongst secondary school students in Nigeria and across Africa.
The window for entries opened on Tuesday at a media launch which took place at UBA headquarters in Lagos.
Bola Atta, chief executive officer, UBA Foundation, said the essay competition would provide an opportunity for students in secondary schools across the country to put in their entries and to win prizes in form of educational grants to study in any university of their choice on the African continent.
Beginning from last year, the prize money increased significantly as the foundation emphasises that education remains one of its key initiatives.
The first prize for the UBA National Essay Competition is a N2 million educational grant, while the second and third prizes are N1.5 million and N1m educational grants respectively.
Speaking to the students and participants at the event, Atta said, “To us at the foundation, this is our drive to improve the quality of education across the continent. It is also our way of giving back to the society. The competition is a key aspect of our investment drive in human capital, as we seek to improve knowledge base, allow students to express themselves and write creatively.
“We will continue to sustain the initiative because education is very important to UBA and we are more than committed to providing the necessary support for students in Nigeria and across the African continent,” she noted.
“We are driven by the mantra to do well and do good and we will not relent in our efforts to touch lives through our various projects, and initiatives,” Bola Atta told the students.
Explaining the modalities for the competition, she stated that entries received from students for the competition will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges made up of professors from reputable Nigerian Universities, who will then shortlist 12 best essays for further assessment.
Following this, a second round of the competition will involve the 12 finalists who will write a second supervised essay from which three best essays will be selected as the overall winners from the 12 finalists emerged from the first round of the competition.
Atta explained that the choice of essay for this year’s competition is one that helps promote creative and analytical thinking in students and helps them to be problem solvers.
This year, the topic is “What do you think the government should do to control fraud in Nigeria?” It is important to note that apart from Nigeria, the national essay competition has been taken to other African countries including Ghana and Senegal.
More countries including Mozambique and Kenya will kick off the initiative this year. A unique component of this year’s edition is that, schools that turn in the highest number of entries will be recognised and rewarded a special prize by the foundation.
Ogechi Altraide, group head, direct sales agency, who spoke on the benefits of reading and writing essays, motivated the students to research into the topics and give it their best shot, adding that there is the need for them to focus on adapting themselves to happenings in their generation, and to have a growth mindset.
This, she explained, will ensure that they can apply themselves and conquer whatever challenges they are faced with.
According to her, reading and writing go hand in hand, and so it is important for students to keep abreast of how the economy can develop through reading and writing.