Eighteen winners out of 1,500 schoolchildren bagged awards yesterday in the first-ever Junior Climate Champions competition, organised jointly by the HSBC and The Daily Star.
The awards were presented at a grand gala ceremony at the capital's Bangla Academy.
Coming from 200 schools across the country, the winners participated in this intense national level competition in three categories -- quiz, extempore speech and poster designing.
The Daily Star and HSBC initiated the contest aiming to create awareness among the young minds on climate change and its effects on the country and the globe.
The contestants were split into two groups, with students from class six to eight in the junior and students of classes nine and ten in the senior group.
Fatimah Tanjeem Sabihah of Sylhet Khajanchibari International School and College won the first prize in the junior group quiz competition, while Sharnali Akhter of Dhaka's Bir Shreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College and Parmita Protik Das of Dhaka's Sunnydale School became the first and second runner up.
In the quiz competition held for the senior group, Ashraful Islam, a student of New Model High School in Dhaka, became the champion while Sakib Aleem of Dhaka's Academia and Ifrat Jahan of Sylhet's Scholarshome were adjudged first and second runner up.
Ipshita Maliat Rahman of Scholarshome finished as champion in the extempore speech competition for the junior level, while Tasnim Mobarak from Dhaka's University Laboratory School and College and Nuzaba Tasannum from Chittagong's Cantonment English School and College became first and second runner up.
In the senior group for speech competition, Sakib Aleem of Academia was awarded champion. Shafat Rahman of Sunnydale and Mansib Tahsin of Chittagong Collegiate School were the first and second runner up.
In the poster designing competition, children expressed their ideas and feelings about climate change. Maisha Malia Siddique of Engineering University School and College, Nitu Saha of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College and Naila Chowdhury of Anandaniketon won the contest in the junior group as champion, first and second runner up.
In the senior group, the first three were Nabanita Ghose of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Pronoy Chowdhury of Chittagong Govt High School and Ahsan Ahmed of Nawab Habibullah Model School and College.
Each of the winners will get six month's free subscription to The Daily Star.
The divisional winners were also awarded with medals and certificates.
The gala event started with a mesmerising cultural performance by schoolchildren. It was marked with jubilation as the audience applauded the awardees for their achievements.
Addressing the programme, speakers suggested the students to learn more on climate change.
Chief guest Prof Ainun Nishat, vice-chancellor of Brac University, said as the climate change issue was changing continuously, the knowledge on the issue should also be updated continuously.
“The entire world took the issue of climate change very seriously and we also need to be serious about it,” he noted and called upon the students to know all the aspects of climate change and its adaptation.
A victim of climate change, Bangladesh has already been witnessing changes to its weather, mentioned the climate expert.
There will be a great change in the country's food production due to climate change and the students will have to know all these issues using modern technologies, he mentioned.
Andrew Tilke, chief executive officer of HSBC Bangladesh, said Bangladesh is a low-lying country and the rising sea level would have a major impact on the country.
So, it is important that awareness is raised here for climate change, he added.
Congratulating the winners, Andrew said all the participants were winners as they all came to know many things from the contest.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said it is essential that everybody develops the mentality of rightly evaluating the natural objects like water, air, trees and sunlight, all of which came as a gift.
He urged the students to make some changes to their habits and lifestyles. The students' education and knowledge would be incomplete if they did not care about environment, he added.
Salehuddin Ahmed, managing editor of The Daily Star, and Ishtiaque Mahmud of BD Cyclist also spoke.