Longford students invited to take part in online national writing competition

Longford Leader reporter


Longford Leader reporter



Longford students invited to take part in online national writing competition

Longford students invited to take part in online national writing competition

ActionAid Ireland is asking young people in Longford aged 14 to 17 to submit a five-minute speech for its newly relaunched ActionTalks competition. 

The competition, now in its seventh year, has had been relaunched as an entirely digital competition to make it accessible to as many students as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

Entries will be taken online and finalists will be ask to present their speech to a panel of esteemed judges during a Zoom event in February.

The first prize will be a €500 voucher for the winning student and a €100 voucher for their teacher.

Young people will be asked to choose one of three topics relating to international development and the global coronavirus pandemic, and write a five-minute or 600 word speech. This year’s topics are:

  • The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity to imagine a more equal and sustainable world, but we must act now.
  • With a shocking increase in violence against women and girls, the coronavirus pandemic has shown us that the struggle for gender equality is far from over.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us of the importance of global solidarity and international aid.

“The coronavirus pandemic has effected each and every one of us and we are developing new ways of working across of programmes. We are delighted to relaunch the ActionTalks competition as a completely digital event and to continue engaging young people in Longford. We have also created learning resources to help teachers to get the most out of the competition,” Siobhan McGee, CEO, ActionAid Ireland.

While students in Ireland have had to face lockdown and miss out on school for six months, many students across the world will never get to return following the pandemic. ActionAid surveyed 130 teachers from 14 countries who work in communities where livelihoods have been lost during the pandemic and where girls are being hardest hit by school closures.

•                     Around three in five teachers surveyed say a higher drop-out rate for girls (59%) and poorer children (62%) will be a long-term impact of the pandemic. 

•                     Nearly half are concerned about increases in early pregnancy (41%) and early marriage (45%) due to the Covid-19 crisis. Over a third (35%) are worried about rising hunger.

•                     Teachers say some of the biggest issues preventing girls from returning to school are parents unable to afford the cost (62%), unpaid care work (59%), child labour (51%) and early marriage (52%).

In addition, ActionAid research has also found that global lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions have led to a shocking increase in gender-based violence worldwide.

ActionAid provides long term support to the poorest and most marginalised women and children in developing countries, so they can overcome the obstacles holding them back. Its Women’s Rights programme, funded by Irish Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs), works to eliminate violence against women and girls by engaging with women and girls, as well as men and boys. Throughout 2020 the programme has also been supporting communities in Nepal, Kenya and Ethiopia to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Irish Aid programmes are funded by Irish citizens and are part of Ireland’s important global role.

ActionAid is hoping entrants will come up with innovative, well-researched, and creative speeches, using their own unique perspective from growing up in a pandemic.

To enter, students can ask their teacher for details or visit https://actionaid.ie/speech- writing-competition/  for more information.