SCILT’s Words for the World competition was inspired by a quote from the inspirational young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who said ‘We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world.’
The competition ran just before the COP26 event took place in Scotland in November 2021. The aim of the competition was for young learners, from P1 through to S6, to think and write in a language other than English about the important issues that COP26, and global debate generally, is raising here in Scotland right now.
This competition was open to all languages, and we received entries from 24 different languages in total: Scottish Gaelic, Scots, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, Tamil, Telugu, Arabic, Urdu, Polish, Farsi, Italian, Yoruba, Latvian, Afrikaans, Japanese, Hindi, Indonesian, German, Portuguese, Icelandic and Persian! This is a beautiful reflection of the rich diversity of Scotland’s languages landscape.
We received over 130 separate entries, some from individuals, some from groups and some from whole classes. In total, well over 200 pupils contributed to the competition. These entries came from 14 different local authorities, from north in the Western Isles to south in South Ayrshire, from east in Edinburgh to west in Glasgow and everywhere in between, and from both state and independent schools. Learners used and developed a number of skills in their entries, including teamwork, literacy, planning, creativity and digital skills, to name a few. Issues covered were mainly around climate change and concern for the future of our planet, but also included racism, the need for peace and personal accounts of escape from the Taliban. Many powerful messages were shared.
A judging panel of experts in language and in global issues decided on the winners in each of the four categories: P1-4, P5-7, S1-3 and S4-6. Entries were all of a very high standard and our judges reported that their task was not an easy one! The shortlisted entrants, along with their parents and teachers, were invited to an online awards event on 17 November 2021, where the winners were announced. Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone who took part!
In their fantastic entries, our young people clearly demonstrated that they have the ideas, the creativity and the passion to change the world with their words. The future of our world is a lot brighter with all of them in it and we are delighted that this competition gave us the opportunity to see that in action.
Schools who want to introduce Learning for Sustainability in the languages class may like to visit our toolkit for ideas.