2012 International Schools Essay Competition and Debate

Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General …

And the winners are …

Secondary Schools Debate proposes Children’s Sustainable Development Goals for Rio+20 Summit (17 May 2012)

Key messages from Primary Schools Debate (16 May 2012)

Please note that entries to this year’s competition are now closed. Registration for next year’s competition will begin in mid-September 2012.

As part of the lead-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil in June 2012, The Living Rainforest is pleased to announce the launch of its International Schools Essay Competition, Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General …

We want to hear what children think governments and world leaders should be doing to build a more sustainable future on planet Earth.

The competition and debate are aimed at primary students (ages 7-11) and secondary students (ages 11-16) and their teachers, whether in formal or home schools. The top prize winner across both categories will be invited to attend the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 20-22 June 2012, along with a teacher champion and parental guardian. The top 15 winning primary and secondary schools will be invited to participate in the annual Schools Debate at The Living Rainforest on 16-17 May 2012, and the prize-winning essays will be presented to the UN Secretary-General.

Essay Competition

Students are invited to write an essay in English, entitled ‘Dear Mr. UN Secretary-General …’. A distinguished panel of judges, drawn from experts and educationalists in the field, will select three winning entries for each age category. The winning students will be awarded trophies at the Schools Debate on 16-17 May 2012 and their essays will be published on the competition website. Essays will be judged for innovative and creative thinking and the potential to contribute to a broad-ranging and constructive debate. The essay length differs by age category as follows:

Primary students (ages 7-11) – max. 400 words

Secondary students (ages 11-16) – max. 650 words

For each category, schools will be invited to submit up to 30 essays online. (These must be submitted by the Teacher Champion, using the login details provided at registration. We regret that paper and emailed copies cannot be accepted.) Based on the essays submitted, fifteen winning primary schools and fifteen winning secondary schools will be invited to participate in the Schools Debate in May 2012.


Schools Debate & Prize-giving

The Schools Debate and Prize-giving will take place at The Living Rainforest on 16-17 May 2012. Each primary or secondary school will be represented by two students, plus one teacher champion. The events for primary and secondary students will occur on different days (primary 16 May 2012; secondary 17 May 2012). Unlike the trip to the Earth Summit in Rio, schools participating in the Debate will need to cover their own costs. Download the Primary Schools’ Programme (16 May 2012) or the Secondary Schools’ Programme (17 May 2012) here (in pdf format).

Key Dates

September 2011 – School/teacher registration begins

30 March 2012 – Closing date for essay submissions (online)

16 May 2012 – Primary Schools Debate and Prize-giving – download Progamme

17 May 2012 – Secondary Schools Debate and Prize-giving – download Programme

20-22 June 2012 – Winner invited to attend Rio+20 Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Resources for Schools

To assist teachers and students in preparing for the competition and debate, key resources will be made available on the competition website in the months leading up to the submission deadline.

Enquiries & Updates

Download the Competition flyer (pdf – 330 kb, A6)

Email queries should be directed to: schools[AT]livingrainforest.org

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