International Online Essay Competitions In Africa

My plan to protect and manage our oceans, seas and marine resources

Global essay competition and debate invites schoolchildren to explore practical ways to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources (SDG 14)

The annual TSL essay competition and debate is aimed at primary students (ages 7-11) and secondary students (ages 11-17), supported by Teacher Champions and schools.

Register your School/Teacher Champion now (ends 15 Dec ’17)

One overall Grand Prize winner (plus Teacher Champion and parent) will win a free trip to the TSL 2018 Debates & Awards in the Seychelles, which will take place during the first week of July 2018. In addition, medals will be awarded in each category for the top ten essays and for the best individual and group contributions at the Debates.

All students and Teacher Champions who participate in the essay competition are invited to attend the Debates and Awards, regardless of whether their essays are singled out for special recognition as Finalists or Honourable Mentions. Please note: The Debate programme and registration details will follow in due course.  

The 2018 Debate themes are:

Primary students (ages 7-11) – ‘We can save the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources by 2030’
Secondary students (ages 11-17) – ‘This house believes that the targets of UN SDG 14 are achievable’

Catch the highlights from our 2017 competition (‘Can we beat climate change by 2030?’)

Key Dates

Veda Fernandes (Jumeirah Primary School, UAE) collected the 2017 Grand Prize at the TSL International Schools Debates & Awards at Oxford University, while Aninthitha Nath (RN Podar School, India) won 1st Prize in the Secondary Schools category. Around 200 children, teachers and parents from 30 countries participated in the 2017 Debates & Awards.

7 September to 15 December 2017 – School/Teachers register to participate as Teacher Champions.

15 December 2017 at midnight GMT  – Deadline for submission of essays (and Schools Sustainability Challenge videos).

31 January 2018 (2400 GMT) – Announcement of essay competition Finalists and Honourable Mention awardees.

31 May 2018 – Registration deadline for the Schools Debates & Awards (registration is compulsory to attend).

2-7 July 2018 – International Schools Debates, Awards and Visits, Victoria, Seychelles. In addition to the Primary and Secondary School Debates, which will take place on consecutive days, participants will enjoy a special programme of ocean-themed visits and events, including CPD for Teacher Champions in support of the global, UNESCO-led Education for Sustainable Development programme. All participants other than the Grand Prize Winner are responsible for making their own travel arrangements (e.g. flights, transfers, accommodation, subsistence and miscellaneous costs).

Essay Competition

Each student is invited to submit one essay in English, entitled:

Primary students (ages 7-11): ‘My plan to protect and manage our oceans, seas and marine resources’ (max. 400 words)

Secondary students (ages 11-17): ‘My plan to protect and manage our oceans, seas and marine resources’ (max. 600 words)

The top prize winning essays from our 2017 essay competition on climate action were sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

An international judging panel, drawn from experts and educationalists in the field, will select the winning entries for each age category. The essays will be judged for originality and creative thinking and the potential to contribute to a broad-ranging and constructive international debate. The winning essays will be published on the competition website.

For each category, schools are invited to submit up to 30 essays online. (These must be submitted by the Teacher Champion, using the login details provided at registration. We regret that paper and emailed copies cannot be accepted, and essays more than 10% over the word limit will be automatically rejected.)

Resources for Schools

To assist teachers and students in preparing for the competition and debate, links to supporting online Teacher Resources will be provided in due course.

(To access supporting resources on themes from previous years, use the menu bar at the upper left hand side of this page.)


TSL 2018 Schools Sustainability Challenge

In addition to the essay competition, the Trust for Sustainable Living runs a parallel international contest called the Schools Sustainability Challenge. Teacher Champions are invited to submit short videos showcasing their schools’ best sustainability projects. Schools are welcome to participate in both contests. The Challenge winners will be announced at the 2018 Debates & Awards in the Seychelles.

Enquiries & Updates

Subscribe to our newsletter (using the form in the sidebar), to receive periodic updates and announcements about the competition.

Email queries should be directed to: schools[AT]livingrainforest[DOT]org

Below are some competitions you can enter as a writer, journalist, photographer, student and others.

The Caine Prize for African Writing 2018

The Caine Prize for African Writing is a literature prize awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English.

Deadline: 31st January 2018

Graduate Institute’s Geneva Challenge for Graduate Students Worldwide 2018

This is an international competition for graduate students. 


  • Registration for teams ends: 16th April 2018
  • Submissions are due by: 20th August 2018

Graduate students from all over the world can apply

The 2018 9Mobile Prize for Literature

Founded by Etisalat Nigeria in 2013, the £15,000 Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first pan-African literary prize created to honour debut books of fiction—novels or short story collections.

Deadline: 18 September 2017

2018 Golden Baobab Prize

This prize discovers and celebrates African Writers and Illustrators of Children’s Stories.

Deadline: 1st December 2017

2018 Brunel University International African Poetry Prize for African Poets

Deadline: 1st December 2017

ICFJ/ ONE/ Elliott Family African Storytelling Contest for African Journalists 2018

The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), in collaboration with ONE and the Elliott family, seeks entries for the 2018 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

Deadline: 31st December 2017

Eligible Countries: African countries

2018 Man Booker International Prize

Deadline: 3 November 2017

Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa 2018

2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Deadline: 1st November 2017

Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction African Writers 2018

This Writivism Prize for Creative Non-Fiction is an annual award for creative non-fiction by emerging African writers administered by the Center for African Cultural Excellence (CACE) and sponsored by the Koffi Addo family.

Deadline: 31st March 2018

Eligible Countries: African countries

The 2018 Bristol Short Story Prize

The competition is open to all writers around the world whether published or unpublished, UK or non-UK based.

Deadline: May 1st 2018

BBC World Service: International Radio Playwriting Competition

BBC World Service and the British Council , in partnership with co-producers with co-producers, The Open University, offers the unique opportunity for playwrights to use the medium of radio dramato reach an international audience.

This year the two first prizes can come from either the English as a First Language or the English as a Second Language category. Both winners will attend an award ceremony in London and see their plays recorded for broadcast on BBC World Service.

Deadline: 31 January 2018

Wergle Flomp Humour Poetry Contest

The Winners will be award a first prize of $1,000 and a second prize of $250.

Deadline: 1st April 2018

Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest 2018

 Deadline April 15, 2018. 

We will award the Tom Howard Prize of $1,500 for a poem in any style or genre, and the Margaret Reid Prize of $1,500 for a poem that rhymes or has a traditional style.

Entry Fee: $12 per poem.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest 2018

Deadline:  April 30, 2018

For this contest, a story is any short work of fiction, and an essay is any short work of nonfiction.

Entry Fee: $20 per entry. 

North Street Book Prize 2018

Deadline: February 15, 2018. 

Entry fee: $60 per book. 

IBM Master the Mainframe Contest for Students in Middle East & Africa 2018

The largest student mainframe competition in the world has returned for its 13th year in a row with new prizes and new challenges for students around the world. Win prizes while gaining unique skills that will land you a career in Fortune 500 companies around the world! No experience needed!!

Application Deadline: 31st December 2017

World Bank #AfricaCAN Story Competition for Young Leaders in Africa 2018

If you are under 40 years old, carrying out great work transforming the lives of socially excluded people in your community—for example, street children, disabled persons, albinos, and in some societies, twins— in Africa, World Bank would like to hear your story. You may become one of World Bank’s Social Inclusion Heroes, and you could win a trip to Washington.

Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition Now Open 2018

This is an international essay competition open for entries to young commonwealth citizens under or aged 18 with diverse backgrounds, to make their voices heard on a global platform.


  • Offline Entries: 1st May 2018
  • Online Entries: 1st June 2018.

DStv Eutelsat Award for African Secondary School Students with Interest in Technology (Fully-funded to Paris, France) 2018

Secondary Students are eligible for the greatest experience of a lifetime if they can be inspired to create an award winning essay or poster on what satellites can do for the African continent.

Deadline: 12th February 2018

IBM Great Minds Student Internships for African Students 2018

This is a competition for internship of 3 to 6 months at one of the IBM Research Labs in Zurich, Nairobi, or Johannesburg for students from central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Deadline: 16th February 2018

Eligible Countries: African countries

Valeo Car Innovation Challenge for Students Worldwide (200,000 Euros Prize) 2018

Valeo has launched the fifth Valeo Innovation Challenge. Through this Challenge, Valeo wishes to encourage students from all around the world not only to innovate but also to develop their sense of entrepreneurship by offering the winners the chance to create their own start-up.

Application Deadline: 30th March 2018.

Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs 2018

Cisco is looking for innovative technology solutions from student entrepreneurs around the world that solve the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems.   

Deadline: 12th January 2018

Eligible Countries: All

Next Einstein Forum Challenge of Invention to Innovation (Ci2i) for Young African scientists and innovators 2018

The Next Einstein Forum invites young African scientists and innovators to present their research driven innovations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to a panel of experts during the second Global Gathering in Rwanda (26-28 March 2018).

Deadline: 12th February 2018.

Eligible Countries: African countries

Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge for International Graduate Students 2018

The Kellogg School of Management and Morgan Stanley partner host the challenge where teams of graduate students from around the globe develop creative financial approaches to tackle our world’s most pressing challenges.

Deadline: 20th February, 2018

Google Hash Code Programming Challenge for Students and Professionals in Africa, Europe and Middle East 2018

Hash Code is a team-based programming competition organized by Google for students and industry professionals (18+) across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Pick your team and programming language while Google picks a real-life engineering problem to solve.

Application Deadline: 26th February, 2018

Shell Ideas360 Global Student Competition for Innovative Business Ideas 2018

Shell Ideas360 is more than a global competition that connects students to develop ideas to tackle the pressures on the world’s Food, Water and Energy resources. It’s an exciting journey of learning and discovery. Collaborate with like-minded innovators, Shell experts and mentors to expand your horizons.

 Deadline: 23:59 GMT on 19th January

Enter for the Science Without Borders Challenge for Primary/Secondary School Students 2018

Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation’s Science without Borders Challenge is an international art competition that engages students to promote the need to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans and aquatic resources.

Application Deadline: 23rd April, 2018 by 11:59 pm (Eastern Standard Time).

Results Announcement Expected: May 2018

IBM Master the Mainframe Contest for Students in Middle East & Africa 2018

The largest student mainframe competition in the world has returned for its 13th year in a row with new prizes and new challenges for students around the world. Win prizes while gaining unique skills that will land you a career in Fortune 500 companies around the world! No experience needed!!

Application Deadline: 31st December 2017

Digital Lab Africa for Creative African Artists and Startups (€3,000 Cash Prize and Mentorship) 2018

The Digital Lab Africa call for projects targets artists, producers, designers, startups, students in media and creative industries in Africa.

Deadline: 25th February 2018

BBC World International Radio Playwriting Competition 2018

Would you like to win £2,200 sterling, a trip to London and have your play broadcast across the world on BBC World Service? If so, the 2018 International Radio Playwriting Competition is now open to entries!

Application Deadline: 21st January 2018

Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize for Early-Career Architects 2018

International competition for early-career architects to win $100,000 traveling fellowship.

Deadline: 14th January 2018

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2018

UNESCO invites the governments of Member States, in consultation with their National Commissions, as well as international and regional professional non-governmental organizations, active in the field of press freedom, to nominate candidates for next year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

Deadline: 15th February 2018

Eligible Countries: All

Nikon Small World in Motion Digital Video Contest 2018

The Nikon Small World in Motion 2018 Video Competition has recently opened for entries, coming from all parts of the world.

Deadline: 30th April 2018

World Press Photo Annual Contest for Professional Visual Journalists 2018

The World Press Photo Foundation invites all professional visual journalists worldwide to participate in its two renowned and free to enter contests: the 61st Photo Contest and the 8th Digital Storytelling Contest.

Deadline: 4th January 2018 12.00 (noon) 

Eligible Countries: All

Diabetes in Pregnancy Photo Contest for Photographers in Developing Countries 2018

Through the power of photojournalism, Women Deliver and the World Diabetes Foundation want to shine a spotlight on this not-so-niche epidemic that is harming our families, costing our health systems, and robbing the next generation of their full potential. We need you to add to the story and ensure that the issue of gestational diabetes is lifted out of the shadows. 

Enter for the Michelin Challenge Design (Fully-funded to Detroit, USA) 2019

Michelin North America, Inc. (“Michelin”) is proud to announce the annual Michelin Challenge Design to celebrate, promote, publicize and give visibility to original creative thinking and innovation in vehicle design.  

Deadline: 1st March, 2018

Eligible Countries: All

United Nations (UN)/MIT Climate CoLab Contest for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change (Funded to 4th UN Environment Assembly) 2018j

In Climate CoLab contests, people from all over the world are invited to work together in developing proposals for what humanity should do about global climate change.

Application Deadline: 7th January 2018

Eligible Countries: All

IWMF Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award for Women PhotoJournalists 2018

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) is seeking nominations for the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award honoring AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed in Afghanistan in April 2014. 

Application Deadline: 19th January 2018

Eligible Countries: All

CrazyGames Game Development Scholarship for Online Game Enthusiasts 2018

Out of grattitude and to help foster the next generation of digital media developers, Crazygames has opened applications for its annual scholarship for students.

Deadline: 31st December 2017

Application Results Announcement: February 1st, 2018

Eligible Countries: All

TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting on Commercial Bribery 2018

TRACE is currently accepting submissions for the 2018 Prize for Investigative Reporting. The award recognizes reporting that uncovers business bribery with the goal of increasing commercial transparency.

Application Deadline: 31st January, 2018.

Eligible Countries: All

UK Natural History Museum (NHM) Wildlife Photographer of the Year for Young and Adult Photographers 2018

Wildlife Photographer of the Year calls on photographers worldwide to put nature in the frame. Whether you’re young, old, professional or amateur, we’d like to see work that raises awareness of the beauty and fragility of the natural world.

Deadline: 14th December 2017 11.30 GMT.

Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellowship (Funded to New York) 2018

Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Social Justice Program supports and trains early career and emerging photographers, artists, journalists, scholars, and activists who are passionate about challenging injustice, pursuing social equality, and advancing human rights through photography.

Deadline: 30th November, 2017

Eligible Countries: Countries outside the United States and Western Europe.

Call for Ideas: Royal African Society’s Africa Writes for Talented African Writers 2018

The Royal African Society’s annual celebration of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora returns to the British Library! Every year the Society showcases established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing taking place over an exciting summer weekend.

Application Deadline: 10th November 2017

Eligible Countries: African countries and Africans in other countries

ONE Campaign Essay Contest for Young Africans 2018

The anti-poverty organisation is inviting young Africans to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, “What one big idea should African leaders implement that will harness the power of the continent’s girls to transform all our futures?

Application Deadline: 17th November, 2017.

Eligible Countries: African countries

Mastercard Foundation Fellowship for Young African Artists 2018

 The Mastercard Foundation is offering its fellowship to young African artists. The fellowship is available for both emerging and established young artists from diverse backgrounds.

Application Deadline: 15th November 2017

Eligible Countries: African countries

About the Award: Young visual artists (ages 18–35) who live or do most of their work in Africa are invited to submit examples of their art in response to the following question:

Yale University ISTF Innovation Prize in Forestry (Funded to Conference at Yale University, USA) 2018

The Yale chapter of the International Society of Tropical Foresters will award the 5th ISTF 2018 Innovation Prize to outstanding projects that apply a multidisciplinary approach to address sustainable resource use in the tropics.

Application Deadline: 17th November 2017

Eligible Countries: All

IBM Master the Mainframe Contest for Students in Middle East & Africa 2018

The largest student mainframe competition in the world has returned for its 13th year in a row with new prizes and new challenges for students around the world. Win prizes while gaining unique skills that will land you a career in Fortune 500 companies around the world! No experience needed!!

Application Deadline: 31st December 2017

Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh #HackTheGerms Innovation Competition (Funded to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, Turkey) 2018

Application Deadline: 20th October 2017

Eligible Countries: Nigeria

About the Award: ADCEM Pharmaceuticals, DRASA, the Enterprise Development Centre

Commonwealth Digital Challenge for Young Media Professionals from Commonwealth Countries (Fully-funded to attend Commonwealth Summit in London) 2018

The Elizabeth R Media Fund is launching a new competition aimed at providing young and aspiring media managers from the Commonwealth with the skills and tools necessary to help their organisations face the digital challenges in their countries.

Deadline: 3rd November, 2017

Eligible Countries: Members of Commonwealth countries

World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2018

WTTC joins forces with sponsors, media partners and contributors to invite destinations, businesses and projects to apply for the Tourism for Tomorrow (T4T) Awards. Each year this yields hundreds of unique entries. 

Application Deadline: 14th November 2017

Eligible Countries: All

Gro Brundtland Award for Female Scientists in Developing Countries (Fully-funded to Taiwan) 2018

Five young female scientists, one from Taiwan and four from other developing countries, will be invited to attend the Gro Brundtland Week after their application materials are evaluated. 

Deadline: 24th November 2017

Eligible Countries: Developing Countries

Enter for the HIPA Photography Competition, Dubai 2018. USD120,000 Prize

The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) has recently opened for entries from all over the world for the 2017-2018 cycle, themed “The Moment“.

Deadline: 31st October 2017


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