The Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) International Letter-Writing Competition will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.
The competition, launched in 1971, aims to promote literacy among the world’s children through the art of letter writing.
In 2021 the theme is, “Write a letter to a family member about your experience of Covid-19.” Letters must be handwritten, no more than 1,000 words, and submitted by 5 May 2021.
For the past 50 years, the UPU has worked with national posts to encourage young writers aged 9-15 to enter the annual competition. Participants are encouraged to express their creativity and refine their language skills in the form of a letter, which is written in line with the ILWC’s annual theme. On average more than 1.2 million young people take part globally each year.
The UPU will award the winner with a gold medal, and second and third will receive silver and bronze medals, respectively. There will also be special mentions for noteworthy letters.
Last year 11-year-old Volga Valchkevich from Grodno, Belarus, triumphed with her letter reflecting on the lessons she learnt from her late grandfather.
Whilst announcing the 2020 ILWC winner in October 2020, Bishar A. Hussein, UPU Director General, urged members to encourage their country’s children to take part in the 2021 competition: “It will be the competition’s 50th anniversary, and it would be wonderful if every one of our 192 member countries took part,” he said.
Reflecting on the 2020 event, Hussein continued, “Each one of the letters contained a spark of innovation and creativity, which I believe is inherent in all children and the way they see the world. A spark that perhaps invites us to listen closely and to pay attention. After all, I think the world has need of inspiration.”
According to the UPU, the ILWC helps young people develop their skills in composition and fosters their enjoyment of letter writing. It is also an excellent way of making young people aware of the important role postal services play in society – a role that has become even more noteworthy during the global pandemic.
“An entire generation of children has tragically fallen victim to the pandemic,” said David Dadge, Programme Manager, Communication and Events, UPU. “The 50th ILWC is an opportunity for these children to tell the world about their experiences in these momentous months, and to remind everyone why literacy is so very important for a child’s future.”
The competition was launched to coincide with the International Day of Education (24 January). The day, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, celebrates the role of education for peace and development. This year’s third International Day of Education had the following theme “Recover and Revitalize Education for the Covid-19 Generation.”