Towards a better life

Excited: Pupils celebrate with mock-ups of their magazines and pizzas.
 Pizzalicious: Students of SMK Bandar Baru Petaling and SK Sri Hartamas enjoying their pizzas.
 Yeoh (second from left), Jamaludin, Wong and Ee Hong listening to students of SMK Damansara Utama as they explain their concept of “A better life”.
What makes for a better life? Your ideas could just win RM100,000 worth of scholarships at Pizza Hut and The Star’s annual NiE contest.
At a time when the five C’s (Cars, Credit Cards, Condominium, Cash and Career) are priority to Generation Y, it’s refreshing to hear how four 14-year-olds concocted the five F’s for a better life.
Syahana Azhari, Vanessa Chip Shiao Ven, Ainaa Aiman Mohd Mashrique, and Aaron Luke of SMK Damansara Utama vouched that “Family, Food, Fun, Friends and Freedom” were sure tickets to quality living.
“What makes for a better life are face-to-face interactions. Social websites or gaming consoles are merely distractions,” said Syahana, while teammates Vanessa and Ainaa nodded in agreement — wise words indeed, from youngsters who have never known life without the Internet, mobile phones or social networking sites.
Vanessa added: “We should be grateful because we have everything that we need, and I feel it is time we do something to help those who do not even have basic necessities.”
A better life
Such enthusiasm to inspire change marked the start of The Star-Pizza Hut’s annual Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) contest which was launched last Tuesday in the Pizza Hut restaurant outlet in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
The contest concept, which requires students to produce a three-page mini magazine, is running for the second year. Last year’s theme “Teenage angst” saw 74,000 students submit entries to win Pizza Hut vouchers.
This year’s contest, jointly sponsored by The Star and Pizza Hut, in cooperation with the Education Ministry, centres on the theme “A better life”.
Students, in teams of four or five, design a three-page mini magazine on an issue that changes their lives for the better.
Topics could centre on health, safety, racial integration and environment, among others.
Each team will have to conduct research on a selected topic, interview peers and write a feature article.
Students are also encouraged to to be more creative in their presentation by using a myriad of writing forms such as poetry, anecdotes, statistics, or comic strips for a more exciting presentation.
This year’s theme allows plenty of room for creativity. As student N. Nagulan, 12, of SJKT Rri Sungai Buloh puts it: “A better life for me is having a car that can be transformed into a radio.
“Not only will I then have a radio to listen to, the car folds neatly into my pocket as well. Parking will no longer be a problem!”
After an encouraging submission of 800 entries for the video clip category last year, this part of the contest has been retained for students who want to try their skills at this genre.
Teams will shoot a three-minute clip based on their perception of what makes a better life for them. While the team with the best video presentation will receive iPods, participation in the category is optional.
Qualification for the merit and the grand prize awards depends solely on the mini magazine category.
Great prizes
While the students came with noble ideas, it was undeniable that a major motivation factor for participating in the competition were the attractive prizes offered.
Sathappan Somasundaram, 12, from SK Sri Hartamas, said that a trip to Cambodia made the competition all the more enticing.
“I really hope to win a trip to Siem Reap so I can see the Angkor Wat, which is one of the wonders of the world,” he said, adding that he would like to learn about the history and culture of Cambodia.
His classmate, Puteri Alisa Alishsal said that the iPods offered for the video-clip category was a good incentive for students to participate in that additional category.
“I also think the competition makes learning English a lot of fun because we get to carry out activities we don’t normally do in class.
“Not only are we learning something new, but are in the running for exciting prizes too!”
New ideas, anyone?
For the second consecutive year, Taylor’s University College is sponsoring the awesome grand prize of pre-university scholarships totalling RM100,000.
Five lucky students can choose to enrol in any one of the following programmes — South Australian Matriculation (SAM), International Canadian Pre-University (ICPU) or Cambridge A-Levels (CAL) — offered by Taylor’s Pre-U studies.
Taylor’s Institutional Marketing vice-president Loy Teik Inn said that it had always been a practice for Taylor’s University College to give scholarships as a means of recognising achievements.
“A competition like this requires a different set of skills.
“Winning a contest like Mag Inc is an accomplishment of a different kind.”
He added that when a scholarship was offered as one of the prizes, it would usually heighten the level of competition among students.
Taylor’s School of Communications dean Josephine Tan is optimistic that the contest would receive an even better response this year.
“The contest theme is an avenue for students to showcase their creativity.
“Since it focuses on aspects that can improve their lives through even the simplest of changes, students would find ample room for expressing their ideas.
“These young minds have many interesting and innovative ideas which we may not have even thought about,” added Tan.
Gracious support
Present to officially launch Mag Inc 2010 was Education Ministry sports director Ee Hong.
In her speech, Ee thanked corporate companies like The Star and Pizza Hut who generously lent their expertise to nation-building efforts.
“Formulate your thoughts and express your observations in ways that can help make this country better as we work towards values and morals that are relevant to our social order and, ultimately, One Malaysia,” she advised students.
QSR Brands Bhd managing director Jamaludin Md Ali said: ”I feel that the theme this year is a good platform for students to express their creativity, as it gives them a wider scope to delve into.
“Students can produce their magazine about almost anything, from issues about economics to their personal life.”
He added that competitions like Mag Inc also made learning English more interesting.
“It is a good avenue for students to brush up on their English language skills.
“It makes the learning process a fun and interactive one.”
Jamaludin said that he was appreciative of the strong support shown by the Education Ministry over the past years.
“I am very grateful for the interest generated by the ministry.
“What we are doing I believe, is just a small contribution to the bigger picture.”
He added that he looked forward to the finals in September, where six shortlisted teams will present their mini magazines to a panel of judges.
Pizza Hut will be spending more than RM1.4mil on Star-NiE pullouts, workshops, incentives and prizes for the contest this year.
Also present at the contest launch was The Star’s managing editor David Yeoh and QSR Brands Bhd (KFC/Pizza Hut Division) director Wong Sooi Kheong.
The Mag Inc 2010 contest workshops are currently running throughout Peninsular Malaysia.
Online registration for schools will open on April 1, and contest templates will be available on April 7 (with reprints on April 28).
The contest is limited to schools and is open to primary (Years Four to Six), Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary teams.

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