Human rights essay contest for high school students

Send signed letters to [email protected]

As Nelson Mandela said: “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  And it is with that thought in mind that for 20 years the Norwalk based Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation (khref.org), whose board consists of professors from Cambridge, Colombia, Duke, Yale and other universities, has sponsored human rights essay contests for high school students.

This year the Foundation is offering prizes of $2000, $1000 and $500 to high school students judged to have written the best answers to the following question:

Does the distribution of income and wealth in your country and/or between countries violate human rights and if so what can and should be done about it?

There are two contests: one for  students in the U.S. and one for  students in other countries.  Essays should be approximately 2500 words in length and be sent as a Microsoft Word attachment to: [email protected] or by regular mail to: KHREF, 184 Fillow St., Norwalk, CT 06850, USA.  Furthermore, they should include a cover page with the: title of the essay, author’s name and grade level, the name and address of the author’s high school, the name of a teacher or administrator at the high school and the following statement signed by the author and author’s parent or guardian: “I give the Kemper Human Rights Education Foundation permission to publish this essay.”

Winners will be announced, and awards presented on Jan. 14.

“In my opinion, equality is the most violated human right in South Africa,” wrote Mika Schubert, a student at Wynberg Boys’ High School in Cape Town who won honorable mention in the 2017 contest for students in other countries.  And he concluded:

“Humans are like leaves, and the tree is like humanity. We each have a role to play in order to make our tree grow. It is the job of the entire human race to treat everyone equally, ensuring that our tree grows to its full potential.”


Michael Tashash would agree.  In 2015, Mr. Tashash, then a student at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School, won second prize in the contest for his essay titled Black Life and Rights Matter.  And in that essay, written five years before George Floyd was killed, he pointed out that “police shooting innocent black people illustrate our society’s inability to fully accept racial equality.”

More information about KHREF, the essays of past winners, and a downloadable file describing the contest may be found on khref.org.

Paul Cantor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>