Concord Times (Freetown)

Sierra Leone: Pen-Sl Presents Prizes to Students

The Sierra Leone PEN Centre has awarded prizes to winners ofthe creative writing competitions that were held recently in the various regions across the country. The prizes, which include cash and writing and reading materials, were presented to members of the PEN School Clubs who participated in the essay writing competitions in Freetown, Makeni, Bo and Kenema.

At the various prize giving ceremonies organized in the regions, the Secretary General of PEN Sierra Leone, Nathaniel A. Pearce, gave a detailed overview of the essay competitions, which he said started with the marking of entries and allocation of prizes.

He said the prizes presented were to encourage students to continue to work hard, noting that the journey should not end there but they (winners) should continue the good work and try to bring on board other students as their friends since they have already got the experience.

Mr. Pearce said the name PEN Centre means to read and write and they should start to exercise that right now. He encouraged those who were not fortunate to win prizes to continue reading and writing, as "their day will come if only they do not drop their pens".

A PEN Club facilitator at the St Francis Secondary School in Makeni, Samuel A. Fengai, said the PEN Centre has been committed to its programmes in their region by providing book shelves and books to schools, as well as organizing essay competitions in order to encourage the students to imbibe the culture of reading and writing.

He thanked PEN Sierra Leone for organizing "such a wonderful competition and for presenting such attractive prizes to the students", adding that the move will motivate the students not only to read the books provided by PEN but to also visit the library for more resource materials and for quiet reading time.

In another development, the PEN Centre also engaged parents and community leaders in town hall meetings in the regions on the importance of reading and writing.

Over the years, PEN Sierra Leone has realized that there is a need to engage schools and related communities more actively in readingprogrammes, andaccording to PEN-SL Secretary General Mr. Pearce, parents, guardians and teachers should be aware of the importance of reading and play a more active role in getting their children and pupils involved in reading programmes.

School children and teachers had always asked PEN to provide them with access to reading materials since they can't afford to buy books, he said, disclosing that this has been their major challenge over the years and "today we are happy to provide you with some reading materials".

"We are also happy that we have constructed book shelves in your schools where you can safely keep these books," Pearce said and encouraged club members and their parents to make good use of the books.

He told the parents that community leaders are born as children and that it is the home that molds them to their positions in society.

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