The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has launched the 2014 OECS Essay Competition, which is designed to encourage critical thinking among the students of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and to motivate their engagement in discussions on issues that impact the development of the OECS countries.

The topics for the competition are:

1. How can the current OECS education system be restructured to prepare young people to fulfil their aspirations?

2. Young people’s constant engagement with social media has the potential of advancing or stifling their advancement. Discuss.

3. Developing the creative talents of the young people of the OECS is critical to the advancement of the creative arts industry in the region. Discuss.

The topics were developed during a session with teachers and education officers from the eight ECCU member countries to discuss how the competition could be tailored to complement their teaching objectives and support their academic programmes.

The OECS Essay Competition, which the ECCB has been hosting since 1996, is open to students aged 14 to 19 in the ECCU.

Entries are judged in two categories: ages 14 to 16 and ages 17 to 19. The essays must be 750 to 1,000 words long and must be typewritten.

They will be assessed for content, soundness of points, logical development, knowledge of the subject, command of language and presentation.

Cash prizes amounting to EC$10,000 will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each category, while grants amounting to EC$6,000 will be awarded to their respective schools. The school with the most entries in the top 10 will also receive a cash award of EC$500.

Since the inception of the competition in 1996, the ECCB has awarded grants amounting to EC$239,500.00 to students and their respective schools.

The essays for the 2014 OECS Essay Competition must be submitted to the ECCB Headquarters or the Bank’s Agency Office in the respective member countries, no later than March 28, 2014.