The HEAD Foundation Essay Competition 2016



The HEAD Foundation is proud to present its inaugural essay competition – “Imagine the Future of Asia”. This crowdsourcing ideation exercise aims to draw from ASEAN youths, original ideas for potential research topics and other projects at the Foundation. It aims to look for fresh, innovative ideas centred around the theme of Human Capital and Education for Asian Development.

For developing countries in Asia, one of the strongest and clearest strategies to move up the next rung of the social and economic ladder is focused investment in its people. Be it from ASEAN countries caught in the middle-income trap or to emerging countries, such as India and China, establishing effective processes for quality human capital development is key. However, as ASEAN is broad and diverse, there is no singular, straightforward strategy. Coupled with the presence of intricate social, economic, political, cultural and psychological nuances, there are both challenges and opportunities for governments and stakeholders alike to shape a path that will meet the needs of a sustainable future.

Crucial to this conversation are the voices of youth. In addition to the presentation of fresh perspectives and ideas, a country’s youth are the bastion of future change-makers and are stakeholders in the nation. Although they are not experts in research or policymaking, the youth are an important constituent that will be able to contribute because they are the receivers of human capital and education policymaking.  While the mission of Human Capital and Education for Asian Development is the thematic background of this competition and the Foundation, we are also keenly aware that it is the youth who will eventually feel the impact of our work. Therefore, we believe that listening to the youth is necessary and should be a key influencer in our research and advocacy plans for the region.


Details of the Competition

Essays should be original, well-researched, informed and they should provide new perspectives as far as possible. Further, they should be written in a style that is accessible to a general audience. Guiding sub themes for the essay include human capital, education (especially education quality and relevance), leadership, sustainable development or a broad mix of the various sub themes.

Essays can address any 1 out of 4 questions listed below:

  1. How do you envision changes needed in education in your country over the next 2 decades?
  2. How can education be reshaped to improve human capital development for your country’s socio-economic future?
  3. What is a key concern that your generation faces? How would you like your idea to be implemented?
  4. How can your country balance the needs of both economic competition and sustainable development?


Essays are to be submitted in English and are limited to 1000-1500 words each. Each essay must be accompanied by a 150-word abstract or summary distilling the main idea. The competition will be open from 15 July to 31 August 2016with winning entries announced at the end of the year.

Essays will be judged according to 1) Quality of Response, 2) Relevance of Response and the 3) Essay Content and Structure.

The full competition terms and conditions are found below.

To download the application form, click HERE.


Participants stand a chance to win the following prizes:

  • 1st Prize US $1200
  • 2nd Prize US $1000
  • 3rd Prize US $800
  • 6 Commendation Prizes of US $400 each


Terms and Conditions

  • The competition will be open from 15 July to 31 August 2016 with winning entries announced end 2016.
  • Essays should be well researched, informed and provide fresh insight as far as possible. They should also be written in an accessible format for a general audience.
  • Charts and tables may be used but should be kept to a minimum.
  • The essay responses must be original and not previously published. Entries which are found to have been plagiarised will be disqualified.
  • A bibliography acknowledging references to existing work and sources is required.
  • Essays can be written by 1 (one) to a maximum of 2 (two) joint authors.
  • All participants (individuals or joint authors) must be (1) ASEAN nationals (i.e Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam); (2) Between 16 and 30 years of age by 31 December 2016.
  • Proof of ASEAN citizenship will be necessary for the winners.
  • Essays must be submitted in English.
  • Essays must be submitted in Microsoft Word or an equivalent format.
  • Essays must be written between 1000-1500 words. Captions, References or Bibliography will not add to the word count.
  • An abstract or summary of no more than 150 words must also be provided within the application form.
  • Entries and the completed application form should be submitted via email to essaycompetition@headfoundation.org
  • Members of The HEAD Foundation and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter this essay competition.
  • The HEAD Foundation reserves the right not to award any or all of the prizes.
  • Only shortlisted participants will be notified of the results of the competition via email. The full list of participants of the winning essays will be published on The HEAD Foundation website.
  • All essays submitted will remain the property of The HEAD Foundation and may be used in future publications/projects. Acknowledgement will be given where possible to the original author(s).

To download the application form, click HERE.