Pupils from schools in rural areas have emerged top in an essay writing contest where over 23,000 pupils from 11,300 public primary schools across Kenya participated.

Mwongeli Mulwa from Makueni, Denise Nguhi from Machakos, Mitchele Rono from Elgeyo Marakwet, Melvin Koech from Elgeyo Marakwet and Emmanuel Okinyi from Migori emerged the top five winners nationally.

The five pupils were feted at a ceremony held in Mombasa and attended by representatives of schools from across the country. The event was presided over by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha and Tourism Cabinet Secretary, CS Najib Balala.

The five winners will be rewarded with an educational tour of the coastal region including a first-hand experience of Pwani Oil’s Kikambala Plant. The winners also received certificates, trophies and assorted gifts.

The essay contest was sponsored by Pwani Oil Products through its Sawa soap brand, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and the Kenya Primary School Headteachers Association (KEPSHA).

The competition dubbed Colors in Life aimed at sharpening creative writing and thinking skills among pupils in Standard 6 and 7 and ran from July 1 to 31.

Mwongeli from ACK Mtito Andei School, Denise (Machakos Primary School), Mitchele (Chepketeret Primary School) and Melvin (Moi Tambach Primary School), and Emmanuel (Milimani Primary School) proved the creative writing mettle of learners from schools in remote parts of the country.

Five essays were shortlisted from each of the 47 counties and the best five nationally picked by a panel of 20 judges drawn from Pwani Oil, KEPSHA, Shujaaz and two external judges. These were Shiko Nguru, a children’s author and popular musician Vivian Wambui also known as Vivian Kenya.

Prof. Magoha hailed the initiative saying it will help sharpen creative writing and critical thinking skills among learners.

“Shaping responsible citizens of the future must begin with producing learners who can think critically and express themselves in creative, innovative ways. This is the only way we can become a Nation of innovators and problem solvers,” said Prof Magoha.

KEPSHA National Chairman Johnson Nzioka hailed the initiative saying it would go a long way in improving the education standards in Kenya.

“The contest not only helped strengthen the value of accumulating knowledge to improve writing skills and creative thinking, but also earn the participants recognition beyond the classroom. This is what the new learning curriculum is all about, that is, teaching children to be all around especially in their areas of God-given talents,” said Nzioka.

Pwani Oil supported the initiative while KEPSHA assisted with mobilizing participation across all the counties and overseeing the adjudication process.

Creative expression is seen as an important aspect of nurturing responsible citizens capable of contributing positive ideas to society. Malde disclosed the essay writing competition will be held annually to appreciate the writing talents of pupils across the country.

Since its launch in 2008, Sawa soap has since grown to be the second most popular bathing soap brand in Kenya, also available as hand wash and body wash.