The renowned pan-African annual creativity competition for schools and young people, the 2018 MASK Prize, opened for entries last week. It challenges young Africans to reflect on creative and innovative ways of thinking and doing and celebrates their creativity at the major institutions around the world.
This year, courtesy of the leading pan-African financial services, Mayfair Insurance, the competition almost doubled its total prize money to Sh500,000. The Kenyan largest television station, Citizen TV, has joined the MASK Prize’s media partner, the major Kenyan newspaper The Star, to promote the programme to reach even more young participants.
Other supporters of the prize are Mabati Rolling Mills, the first company in Africa to produce coated steel; US charity The Nobelity Project, which builds classrooms and computer labs in Kenya, and the UK Rivers Foundation, formed by entrepreneur Alan Rivers, that has been generously supporting the MASK Prize from the beginning.
More than 70 prizes and commendations in the categories ‘Schools’, ‘Visual Arts’, ‘Music/Dance/Performance’, ‘Poetry’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Ideas’ will be awarded to winners at the Award Ceremony at the Michael Joseph Art Centre in Nairobi on May 26. All schools, children from the age of three assisted by their parents, and young people under the age of 25 should apply online before April 1 on mobileartschoolinkenya.org/MASK-Prize. For the first time this year, the ‘MASK’s Business Leaders for Creativity Award’ will also acknowledge visionary leaders who promote creativity in Africa.
The MASK Prize has been a triumph of creativity! As technology and globalisation transform the way we live and work, the ability to think creatively — to generate new and effective solutions — has become a key competency to employers and a critical tool to preparing young people for the jobs of tomorrow.
The recent ‘2018 Readiness for the Future of Production’ report conducted by the World Economic Forum suggests that only those countries that address the “development of the human strengths required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which comprise not only technical prowess but also creativity, can capitalise on future production opportunities and be resilient and agile in responding to unknown future shocks.” Another World Economic Forum research of 2016, ‘The Future of Jobs’, predicts that by 2020, “creativity will become one of the top three skills workers need”.
The countries’ education systems, however, remain largely inadequate in meeting the new challenges. According to The World Bank’s ‘2017 World Development’ study, 650 million children attend primary school, but a staggering 250 million are not even learning basic skills. The LEGO Foundation says the situation is much more disturbing: children and young people are not learning creativity needed to prepare them for what lies ahead. They struggle to adapt and cope with basic tasks, to understand simple concepts and apply them in different situations, to make plans and achieve goals. They grow into adults who have low productivity and self-esteem and are likely to be unemployed.
But creativity should not be the responsibility of schools and universities alone. Companies cannot be consumers of ‘ready-made’ human capital anymore. They must invest in the creativity of the future workforce. The MASK Prize is a great and agile approach to creativity-training and to the promotion of creativity on a national scale. It is also an exciting form of partnership with the business that proved to be highly effective in strengthening the creativity of young people to support economies and societies.
A not-for-profit programme pioneered by the UK charity MASK, the MASK Prize seeks more sponsors. To partner with MASK, apply to the MASK’s Founder Alla Tkachuk on [email protected]