14 May 2018

Ren-Wei Yip of St. Joseph's Institution International School, Malaysia, wins first prize in 11–14 year-old category.

Schoolchildren between 7 and 14 years of age from India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom have been named as winners of the Commonwealth Class Writing Competition, an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat and British Council.

The international short story writing competition was themed around ‘Peace’, with two student categories: 7–10 year-olds and 11–14 year-olds. 

First prize in the 7–10 year-old category was awarded to Ananya Mukherjee from Manav Rachna International School, Gurugram, India, for her story ‘Bridge of Bliss’. It succeeds in painting a humane and expressive portrait of a grandparent suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in simple, yet elegant, prose. Ananya will receive a book token worth £100.  

Second prize was awarded to Hira Siddiqui from Practical Schooling System, Karachi, Pakistan, who will receive a £50 book token. This fable deals with the serious themes of nature, peace, and sustainability. 

Third prize was awarded to Alyssa Malley, Churchfields Junior Schools, England, UK, who will receive a £30 book token for a story about the importance of ending conflict through the acceptance of others and the recognition of what all of us have in common.

In the 11–14 year-old category, first prize and a £100 book token was awarded to Ren-Wei Yip, St. Joseph's Institution International School, Malaysia, for his story ‘Christmas Wish’, a classic story about the 1914 Christmas truce. 

Second prize with a £50 book token was won by Elena Gourley, Strathearn School, Northern Ireland, UK with a strange and hypnotic story about inner peace and the comforts of reading.

Third prize with a £30 book token was won by Khairat Jimoh, Dependable International School, Nigeria, with a tragic story about war, but with a hopeful ending.

The competition attracted over sixteen hundred entries from Commonwealth countries.

Sinead Russell, Senior Literature Programme Manager and Joe White, Literature Coordinator at the British Council from the judging panel, commented:  “It was a privilege to read so many excellent stories from around the world. Although every story differs in its approach to this year’s theme, what they all have in common is a depth of humanity and a feel for language which, quite frankly, humbled us.”

The Commonwealth Class initiative enables schools to take part in online competitions and work on projects with the aim of giving young people a hands-on international learning experience based around the Commonwealth family of countries.

All of the winning stories and highly commended entries, each illustrated by Tarsila Kruse, Children’s Book Illustrator, can be seen on the British Council’s Commonwealth Class website.

Ren-Wei Yip from St. Joseph's Institution International School, Malaysia, said, "I chose to take part in the Commonwealth Class Writing Competition because I believed that it would help provide me with a unique outlet to pen down my musings, as did HRH’s 90th Birthday Commemoration Poetry Competition by the British High Commission Malaysia, in which I wrote a poem for Her Majesty’s birthday; I believe that these competitions help enable youth worldwide to write with depth and sophistication.”

Andrew Bayfield, Head of English, St. Joseph’s Institution International School Malaysia, said, “Ren-Wei is a pleasure to teach English to: he is creative, eloquent and has an unusually sophisticated grasp of how to control sentence length and paragraphs. Ren-Wei is also developing an emergent maturity in his writing, and is able to empathise with characters and situations. The Commonwealth Competition has been a great opportunity for Ren-Wei to showcase what I feel will be a skill with the written word that he can utilise in his adult life.”  

In presenting Ren-Wei with his certificate and book token, Sarah Deverall, Director of the British Council in Malaysia commented, “It is a privilege to meet a young person with the enthusiasm, depth of insight and command of language that Ren-Wei is already demonstrating. His creativity and passion for language is clearly being nurtured by his parents, who I was also delighted to meet, and his school. I am very pleased that this Commonwealth Class initiative has enabled Ren-Wei’s talents to be shared and recognised amongst our commonwealth family. He told me of his ambition to further his studies one day in one of our top UK universities and look forward to hearing more of his journey in reaching that goal.”