Oakseed Ministries International, 2012 Essay Contest – “COMPASSION AND THE ILLITERATE CHILD”

Oakseed Ministries International Seeks Voices for the Voiceless: The Illiterate Child

Oakseed Ministries International is proud to announce their seventh annual international essay contest for youth on the topic: Compassion and the Illiterate Child. Students are invited to explore the issues facing child illiteracy and to offer innovative ideas to help these children.

According to UNICEF, almost a billion people in our world are unable to read or even sign their names. Over 130 million children in the developing world have little to no education provided for them. More than 50 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is illiterate. What is even more appalling is that young women represent two-thirds of the world’s illiterate.

Dr. Edward Bradley, President of Oakseed Ministries International, says “To deny a child the opportunity to read is like locking an adult in solitary confinement for a lifetime.”

Oakseed is also hosting an interactive website for youth that is designed to help young people to think critically about the issue of child illiteracy. The website will feature insights from experts on the illiterate child as well as interactions with other sites focusing on the pandemic of childhood illiteracy. The interactive website is located at www.oakseedessaycontest.com.


Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to submit an essay, students must meet the age requirements as of May 2, 2012. You may submit only ONE essay.

Age Categories

17 & under: 5,000 characters or less ( 1000 words in length).

18 – 22: 7,500 characters or less ( 1500 words in length).

Essay Format

The essay must be an original, unpublished work.

Essays may be written in the formal or informal voice, but most importantly, an individual perspective should be present within the essay.

Sources are to be cited in the text. Do not use footnotes or endnotes. You do not need to provide a bibliography.

Essays should be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced with 1? margins. On the lower right corner of your last page enter your word count. Your name must not appear on the essay pages, only on the cover sheet.

Entries that do not meet these submission guidelines will be automatically disqualified. Entries will not be returned. All entries must be postmarked by May 1, 2012.

Awards and Recognition

$1,000 will be awarded to the author of the best essay in each age category. Second place essays will receive a $500 award and Honorable mention will receive a $250 award. The winners will be notified in June 2012 and the winning essays posted on the Internet at http://essay.oakseed.org.

Essay Evaluation Criteria

Each essay should:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues surrounding child illiteracy and its implications on society.
  • Show the author has personally wrestled with the nature and character of compassion.
  • Demonstrate the student’s own serious reflection on the current and future problems facing child illiteracy.
  • Be focused and well-reasoned.
  • Use correct spelling and grammar.

All entries will be judged, according to age category, using the following criteria:

Awareness of the problem (1/3 total score)

Demonstrate knowledge and depth of understanding about the issue from your research.

Quality of analysis (1/3 total score)

Develop your own perspective on the issue. This perspective should be reflected in your analysis of and your personal response to the issue.

Style and mechanics (1/3 total score)

Use proper spelling and grammar. Your response to the topic should be clear and original.

Essay reviewers from outside Oakseed Ministries will identify the essays that best meet the above criteria.  The highest rated essays will go on to a second round of judging by a team of judges who will select the semi-finalists.  The prize-winning essays will then be selected by the directors of Oakseed Ministries.  All decisions are final.

Foreign Language Submissions

Essays may also be submitted in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Korean, Swahili, Japanese, and Chinese.  See www.oakseed.org/essay for submission guidelines and information on other languages.

How to Submit Your Essay Online

To submit your essay online, visit http://essay.oakseed.org for more information and the submission form.  All submitted essays must be either in a .pdf or .doc format.

Privacy: Personal Information Form provided by entrants will be used by Oakseed Ministries for contest purposes only and will not be shared or used for solicitation purposes.

Receipt Deadline

Essays must be submitted by 11:59pm EST on May 1, 2012.

How to Submit Your Essay By Mail

To submit your essay by mail, include the two parts:

Part One: A Personal Information Form

Use a cover page to provide the following information:

Your name

Your date of birth

Home address, City, State, Postal Code, Country

Home telephone number

E-mail address

School’s name (or specify home school)

Grade level (or equivalent)

Parent’s or guardian’s name (For age category 17 & under)

Include the following statement with your Personal Information Form.

I      (your name)           am submitting an original essay to Oakseed Ministries.  I certify that this essay is my own work.  I understand that my essay will not be returned to me and will become the property of Oakseed Ministries to use at its discretion in activities related to furthering a compassionate response to the issue of illiterate child.  I further understand that the judges’ decisions are final.

Part Two: Submit two copies of your essay

Send your Personal Information Form and two (2) copies of your essay to:

Essay Contest
Oakseed Ministries International
PO Box 607
Dunn Loring, VA 22027

Choose one topic and write an essay exploring the specific area, keeping in mind the backdrop of compassion.

  1. Survey the problem of illiteracy among poor children. Which countries have the highest children’s illiteracy rates and why? What countries are effectively dealing with this issue and how?
  2. What is the most effective way to teach children to read? Compare and contrast the “look and say” method and the “intensive, systematic phonics first” method. Is either effective, or is there a better method for teaching children to read?
  3. Many disorders hamper development of reading skills. Discuss the different learning disabilities. What are the causes of these disabilities; biological factors or the learning environment? What methods help each disability most effectively?
  4. Illiteracy and crime. Select 2-3 countries or American cities and compare the illiteracy and crime rates. Discuss efforts to promote literacy in high-crime areas and what involvement you could have with them.
  5. Illiteracy, culture, and the internet/mass media. How do both cultural norms and modern day technology contribute to the pandemic of illiteracy? What are solutions to this problem?
  6. Economic impact of illiteracy for the family, the community, and nations. Is there a relationship between illiteracy and poverty? Is literacy a basic human right of a child? Discuss how children’s literacy should be included in the economic plan of a nation.
  7. What are outstanding examples of literacy development among children? Choose three individuals, organizations, or government agencies that have focused on this area. Describe their methods and list the major results. Is there a way for you to exercise compassion by helping one of these?

Official Website: http://www.oakseedessaycontest.com/guidelines/2012-essay-guidelines/



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