Girls top 4th UBA national essay competition

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Top winner of the competition, Thea Nyalo Davies and UBA Officials

By Alfred Koroma

On Friday 16th February 2024, UBA Bank Sierra Leone through the UBA Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) hosted the 4th Edition of the National Essay Completion finals at the Bank’s Head Office.

Three female pupils from Bo, Freetown and Kono clinched the first, second and third positions respectively among 12 pupils who qualified for the final round of the competition. To get the three top winners, the pupils competed their writing skills on the topic: “The positive and negative influence of social media on youth behavior and education in Sierra Leone.”

The National Essay Competition was initiated by the UBA Foundation over a decade ago as part of the Foundation’s drive to improve access to education for the under-privileged across Africa.

The Competition offers an opportunity for pupils to strengthen their critical thinking skills, civics, and other skillsets relevant for their growth, UBA’s Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications, Sallieu Sesay said in a short address before candidates who made it to the semi-final began writing.

For the 4th edition, UBA received a total of 307 essays from all over the country, but 73 were disqualified and 24 out of the total applicants, made it to the semi-final.

The 24 semi-finalists from various districts, including Kenema, Kailahun, Kabala, Kono, Bo, Waterloo, Makeni, Bonth, Port Loko, Falaba, Karene, Pujehun and Freetown competed at the UBA Head Office, given 45 minutes to write on “The role of technology in shaping the future of education in Sierra Leone.”

From that stage, the 12 best competitors progressed to the final stage to battle for Fifty Thousand Leones (NLE50) and a golden trophy, UBA price for the best writer or winner.

The three best writers of UBA 4th Essay competition

14-year-old Thea Nyalo Davies from Jonathan’s Childcare School, Bo won the competition, traced by Sherilyn A. N Kamara from the Annie Walsh Memorial School who secured NLE30,000 for coming second, while Nadia Nganga Sebba from Cluny Free the Children Secondary School, Kono emerged as the third winner, bagging NLE 20,000.

Each of the 12 teens who made it to the final were given one hp Laptop computer, including the top three winners. And UBA Bank Accounts were opened for all those who reached the semi-final stage and each received a pack-bag, a T-shirt and a cap and a certificate of participation.

Reacting to a convoy of journalists having being pronounced winner of the 4th Edition of the UBA National Essay Completion, joyous Nyalo Davies said she felt happy and honored to have won such a completion and received such a price from UBA Bank.    

 “I feel stunned but I also feel grateful for the opportunity provided by the UBA Bank, she said, thanking the Bank for its progressive initiative.

 This was the second time Davies had applied for the annual completion. When asked what made her stand out among the other competitors, she highlighted ‘practice and perseverance’ as the deal behind her success. “You can never have perfection without practice. So I have to practice and work on my spellings, the way I pronounce words and the way I construct my essays.”

For Sherilyn who came second, “winning starts from believing in yourself and supporting yourself.” It was her fourth time attempting the competition.

 “Even if you try and fail. Do it again. Tell yourself that you can do it,” she said.

Unlike the two best winners, it was Nadia’s first time applying for UBA Essay competition. Yet, she came third and feels proud for being among the top winners.  “My fellow pupils, she said, you should not hesitate to take part in such a competition because you might not know.”

In addition to journalists from various media houses present, the day-long event was also streamed live on Facebook through the Bank’s official Facebook page.

Representatives from the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) and top officials of the UBA Bank also witnessed the competition.

In his statement, Strategic Communication analyst of the MBSSE, Augustine Sankoh thanked UBA for investing in such a competition and encouraged pupils to continue participating, saying such competitions prepare pupils for future public exams, especially the WASSCE.

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