Siaya teacher places her school in global map in writing competition

A primary school teacher in Siaya County is the East African winner of the 2016 Commonwealth short story writing competition.

Judith Apiyo Ojoro, a teacher at Sega Girls’ Primary School emerged position seven among more than 1,000 entrants in the competition, with her story on identity, which focused on albinism.

The prestigious international writing competition which is run by British Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat, on the theme “Belonging” received over 3,000 entries from both school children and the Commonwealth countries around the world.

Speaking to the Kenyan Woman, Ojoro, who is also the deputy head teacher says that albinos face a lot of challenges ranging from stigma to being murdered and thus the need to create awareness.

Theme

“The theme ‘belonging’ is my core skill choice and I have unveiled an action plan in my school and the Commonwealth Class story competition gave me an opportunity to delve into the topic of albinism which I like most,” says Ojoro. She explains: “I also wanted to make the world know that albinism is not a curse or punishment to the parents but a biological condition we have no control over.”

The competition was judged by the children’s author and former Children’s Laureate Anne Fine and also by the British Council’s Arts Department.

Ojoro, who teaches religious studies, is also a trainer of music and drama.

Ojoro has expressed her joy to be among the best saying that she never expected to emerge among the best in an international competition.

“Even though I didn’t expect to be in that position, I knew that in every competition everybody expects the best,” she says.

In 2006, the mother of three recalls how she missed an opportunity to attend some training in Rwanda where ten teachers were selected from each East African countries.

“I was really disgusted because I received the letter late, but from that experience, I knew that my star had started rising,” Ojoro says.

She adds: “I have learnt different core skills of citizenship particularly on the theme of belonging. I have enjoyed activities which were part of the workshops organized by the British Council.”

Awareness

Ojoro is planning to hold workshops in various schools to create awareness to teachers and pupils on the theme of belonging.

She says: “I will visit schools for the blind and other institutions that host children with albinism so that we can share and create a sense of belonging among these children and make them aware that their condition is not a curse but a biological skin disorder.”

The Commonwealth Class Initiative also enables schools to take part in online debates, competitions and work on projects with the aim of giving young people a unique and hands-on international learning experience based around the Commonwealth family of countries.

Nandini Dasqupta from India was the overall winner in the teacher’s category, with a story that deals sensitively with the issue of families so hard-pressed by poverty that they are forced to put children up for adoption.

The second position went to Ngozi Razak-Soyebi from Nigeria with a story describing the daily pressures on, and temptations for, an abandoned street child in the city.