High School Students Encouraged to Enter ATI Essay Competition

Release Date: 
Monday, January 16, 2017

High school students across Jamaica are being encouraged to weigh in on matters related to access to information (ATI). The 2016 Access to Information Unit’s National High School Essay Competition is still open, following its launch during Right to Know Week in September 2016.

The Access to Information Act was passed in 2002 to give members of the public the right to access non-exempt documents held by public authorities.

In encouraging the youth to get involved in the competition, Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister the Hon. Derrick Smith said engaging the youth in all aspects of national life is a key thrust of the Government.

“Our young people are our future leaders and we must equip them to take up the mantle in the operation of a democratic society.

Meanwhile, Miss Kerrie-Ann Dryden, Senior Legal Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister who is overseeing the operations of the ATI Unit emphasised the pivotal importance of this competition as a major plank in the Unit’s effort to increase youth inclusion and participation, adding that it has continued to grow in impact over the several years it has existed.

Miss Dryden disclosed that during the course of 2017, the ATI Unit will be rolling out a number of initiatives to foster awareness among the youth to get them more involved in access to information.

“We want the youth to buy in to the importance of the ATI framework to foster and promote transparency, accountability, as well as facilitate their participation in national decision-making in an informed way,” she noted.

Giving further details on the essay competition, Prudence Barnes Public Education Manager at the Access to Information Unit explained that students are asked to submit essays of 1600-1800 words to discuss the topic:

“The Access to Information Act is playing a Significant Role in Improving Accountability and Transparency in Jamaica.”

“The essay competition will assist students to have a greater appreciation for research, academic competition and critical thinking while deepening their knowledge of the Access to Information Act. The competition is also an excellent way for students to appreciate the practical applications of the Act and its importance in a democratic society”.

In addition, Miss Barnes observed that the essay competition provides attractive prizes for the top participants, as the first prize is $50,000, the second prize is $30,000 and the third prize is $20,000.

Second place winner for the 2013 competition Nasharria Serinash endorsed the competition, noting that it played a significant role in her academic development and gave her resources to help fund her pursuit of tertiary studies.

Deadline for the competition is January 31, 2017.


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