Eric Williams Regional 'School Bags' Essay Competition Announces 2023-2024 Winners
News and Announcements
Tuesday, May 14, 2024 07:33 AM

Port of Spain, TRINIDAD and TOBAGO (April 30, 2024). The Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives & Museum (EWMC) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago, announces the adjudication of this year’s “Eric Williams ‘School Bags’ Essay Competition.” Judges are: Dr. Rita Pemberton, retired Chair, University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of History; Dr. Trevor Burnard, William Wilberforce Institute Director, University of Hull (UK); and Dr. Sasha Turner, Johns Hopkins University (US).

As the specter of artificial intelligence, social media and the misinformation and disinformation it engenders becomes a clear and present danger to society, this year’s topic asked students if social media is a help or a hindrance, and to discuss its impact on civil society or politics.

Entries were received from: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. While the contest is open only to Lower and Upper Sixth Formers (CAPE equivalent) in 178 schools in the English-speaking Caribbean, one Trinidad and Tobago Fourth Former insisted on entering with an essay entitled, A Rose and Its Thorns!

After careful deliberation throughout the reading period, the 2023-2024 Essay Competition prize winners are:

  • First Prize: Alyssa Debideen, St. Augustine Girls High School, Trinidad/Tobago
  • Second Prize: Krystal Dan, Queen’s College High School, Guyana
  • Third Prize: Naomi Barkoye, Queen's College High School, Guyana
  • Consolation Prize: Xaria Amoroso, Cowen Hamilton Secondary High School, Trinidad/Tobago

The first prize winner will receive a four-day trip for two to a Caribbean country with airfare, hotel accommodations and per diem allowance; a tour of The Eric Williams Memorial Collection and UWI campus; a US $1000 educational voucher; courtesy calls on the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; a tour of Parliament; radio and TV interviews; and a framed certificate. Second prize is a laptop computer, third – a US$500 educational voucher. Winners receive a Digicel DL smart phone, and a set of Eric Williams’ books. The winning school receives a trophy and Eric Williams’ books.

The successful essay will also be published in: Miami, Florida’s Caribbean Today newspaper; CARICOM’s newsletter; The Trinidad Express newspaper; and UWI Today’s magazine. A link to the essay will be publicized in Caribbean Airlines’ inflight magazine, Caribbean Beat.

Throughout his life, Dr. Eric Williams, noted scholar/historian and the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, gave special emphasis to learning. “To educate is to emancipate,” as he famously said. On August 30, 1962, the eve of his country’s Independence from Britain, he exhorted:

“You, the children, yours is the great responsibility to educate your parents, teach them to live together in harmony...To your tender and loving hands, the future of the Nation is entrusted. In your innocent hearts, the pride of the Nation is enshrined. On your scholastic development, the salvation of the Nation is carry the future of [the Nation] in your school bags.”

Patrons of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection’s ‘School Bags’ Essay Competition are: Banwari Experience; Caribbean Airlines; Caribbean Beat Inflight Magazine; Caribbean Development Bank; Caribbean Today; CARICOM; Courtyard by Marriott, Trinidad; Digicel (Trinidad and Tobago); Hyatt Regency, Trinidad; One Caribbean Media, Ltd.; Trinidad and Tobago’s Office of the Prime Minister, Parliament and Speaker of the House of Representatives; UNESCO, Trinidad; University of the West Indies; UWI TV.

The Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives & Museum was inaugurated by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in 1998, and named to UNESCO’s prestigious Memory of the World Register in 1999. For more information, please contact Erica Williams Connell, The Eric Williams Memorial Collection P.O. Box 561631, Miami, FL 33256-1631, USA. Fax: (305) 271-4160; Website: