2010 Ma Chinese Essay Competition and Scholarship Prize

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The Ma Chinese Scholarship Prize is awarded each year to the St. Paul’s School student who writes the best essay on an assigned topic.

Recognizing the importance of mutual understanding and a global perspective in our increasingly intertwined world economies and cultures, the Ma Chinese Scholarship Prize, supported by holdings in the Ma Chinese Studies Collection in Ohrstrom Library, inspires St. Paul’s School students to learn and understand more about China by investigating subjects relating to Chinese culture, politics, science, history, and the arts.

This year’s topic pertains to China’s adherence to the principles set forth by the International Labor Organization and the advancement of working conditions and labor standards in China during the past two decades.

Founded in 1919, the International Labor Organization was established to facilitate world peace through the promotion of worker rights, decent jobs, and the establishment of universally embraced labor standards.  Today the ILO’s membership has grown to 182 countries and over the years this specialized UN agency has held nearly 185 conventions covering a wide range of topics on work related issues. It is interesting to note that the ILO was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1969,  and that from 1939-1941,  the ILO’s Deputy Director was John G. Winant who for a time attended and taught at St. Paul’s School. The theme of the ILO’s recently celebrated 90th anniversary in 2009 was “working for social justice“– a recurrent theme and value that as servant leaders we share at St. Paul’s School.

Although China was one of the International Labor Organization’s founding members (the United States was not), China’s ties and relationship to the ILO have often been disrupted or severed during the 20th century, and its attentiveness to ILO initiatives has waxed and waned due to the many political and economic changes that have taken place in that country over time.  However, while China’s embrace of the various labor norms and standards recommended by the ILO has been inconsistent, there have been gains made and a strengthening of  ILO-China cooperation in recent years.

To enter the competition for the Ma Chinese Scholarship Prize, St. Paul’s School students should prepare an essay addressing China’s evolving labor conditions during the past 20 years, with special emphasis on its government’s policies and practices regarding child labor; labor union participation;  preservation of sound working conditions;  and minimum wage protections.  With respect to its treatment of working people, how closely is China reflecting and facilitating the ideals set forth by the ILO?

If this question interests you, please drop by the Library, where books relevant to this year’s Ma essay are on reserve, and where you can pick up a copy of this year’s complete essay question and reading guidelines.  The deadline for submitting the essay is Monday, May 24 at 5:00pm.

Image courtesy of peruisay under this Creative Common license.

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