J-FLAG Partners with JYAN to Launch Secondary School Essay Writing Competition


There is a dearth of discourse and opportunities for students to learn about human rights issues in Jamaica. This is particularly true of those sociocultural, political and legal issues that affect the rights of vulnerable and marginalised populations such as people living with HIV (PLHIV), women and girls, people living with different abilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who experience layers of stigma and discrimination.

Discourse on human rights is important because it raises awareness, encourages research, and engages stakeholders in an effort to reduce and eliminate all forms of stigma and discrimination experienced by the most vulnerable among us. Such discourse also underscores the principle of respect for diverse populations entrenched in our motto – ‘Out of many one people’.

The Essay Competition

Given the limited exposure of secondary school students to human rights issues, it is important that avenues be created for secondary school students to conduct research in this area while developing their critical thinking skills. J-FLAG has therefore partnered with the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) to launch a secondary school essay writing competition for students 13 to 19 years of age.

This essay writing competition will encourage students and teachers (who will supervise students) to incorporate knowledge garnered from their participation into their classrooms, clubs and societies, and in discussions with their peers to continuously raise awareness about this and other related issues.

We also hope that this will encourage the development of a stronger sense of citizenship and a deeper understanding of the rights guaranteed by all persons under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom regardless of being male or female, race, place of origin, social class, colour, religion or political opinion. All essays will be uploaded to an online repository accessible by the public as part of J-FLAG’s public awareness and education programme.

Competition Period:

The competition will run from Monday, April 7, 2014 to Friday, May 9, 2014 at midnight.

The winners will be announced on Friday, May 16, 2014 and the winning essays will be read at the Annual Larry Chang Symposium as part of J-FLAG’s observation of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Essay topics

  1. Category 1 – students who are 13-15 years old and registered at a secondary high school in Jamaica. Students will write on the following:

Human rights are for everyone. Discuss

  1. Category 2 – students who are 16-19 years old and registered at a secondary high school in Jamaica. Students will write on the following:

The right to freedom of expression is absolute. Discuss

The winner from each category will receive a 7” Samsung Tablet 3, a gift certificate valued at $10,000 each and a winner’s plaque. The winning teacher from each category will be rewarded with a spa treatment.

The runner up from each category will receive a gift certificate valued at $10,000 each and a gift basket. The runner up teacher from each category will also be rewarded with gift baskets.


  1. All essays should be typed with 1.5 line spacing, using APA guidelines, and must be accompanied by a reference page.
  2. For category 1, essays should be 300 – 500 words in length. Essays exceeding this limit will not be considered. Essays below the minimum word count will not be considered.
  3. For category 2, essays should be 1000 – 1200 words in length. Essays exceeding this limit will not be considered. Essays below the minimum word count will not be considered.
  4. All essays must be submitted via email to humanrightsessays@gmail.com in Microsoft Word format only. You will receive an immediate verification that your essay has been received. If you do not receive a verification email within one hour of your submission please call 849-1403.
  5. A cover page with your full name, age, name of school, your email address, contact number, and mailing address must be submitted with your essay. Your cover page and reference list are not included in the word count.
  6. Proof of age must be submitted with all essays. This may be a certified copy of your birth certificate or a letter from your JP, teacher or doctor, which should be scanned and emailed along with your essay to humanrightsessays@gmail.com.
  7. Essays will be graded based on the following rubric:
    Content – 10
    Analysis & Persuasion – 8
    APA formatting & Reference – 4
    Style & Grammar – 3

Contact Information: Latoya Nugent, Education and Outreach Manager, J-FLAG

Email: theignosticnugent@gmail.com Phone: (876)849-1403