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Information For The Media

15 August 2016 /

Young writers awarded Winners 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, which is the world’s oldest international schools writing competition and has been sponsored by Cambridge University Press since 2013. 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. This will be the third time that the Duchess of Cornwall has taken part in the Awards Ceremony.

Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Michael Lake CBE, 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.”



More information about the Competition, including the Winners and Runners-up can be found here: ??

Senior Winner: Dr. Congo-man, Inessa Rajah, South Africa, aged 17

Senior Runner-up: Let Them In: A Short Discourse Outlining How Complicated These Three Words Can Be, Esther Mungalaba, Zambia, aged 19?

Junior Winner: Untitled, Gauri Kumar, Singapore, aged 13

Junior Runner up: Are We Really So Different?/ Dear Santa, Tan Wan Gee, Singapore, aged 14

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition was founded in 1883 and is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing contest. The competition is sponsored by Cambridge University Press and received approximately 13,500 entries from almost every country in the Commonwealth.

The Junior category is open to entrants aged 13 years and under and the Senior category is open to entrants aged 14-18.

The overarching theme for 2016 was ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, which is also the 2016 Commonwealth Year theme, and?a?topical theme for today’s youth.?Both Senior and Junior topics gave young people the opportunity to think about aspects of the theme such as: the significance of community; the importance of diversity and difference; the question of belonging; the values of tolerance, respect and understanding; and the sense of shared responsibility that exists within the Commonwealth today. The topics were a chance to develop critical thinking and to express views in a creative manner.

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), founded in 1868, is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of Commonwealth citizens across the world. Through youth empowerment, education and advocacy, the RCS promotes the value and values of the Commonwealth.


Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world’s oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world. Cambridge University Press has been a sponsor of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition since 2013.

Media enquiries:

Anja Nielsen, Manager of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, Programmes Officer (Youth and Education), the Royal Commonwealth Society

T: +44203 727 4306 | E: [email protected]

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