The technological age of texting, WhatsApp, Skype and email has negatively impacted on literacy skills across Barbados.

So great is the impact that it is also affecting the ability of post office staff to process mail in a timely manner, as persons are no longer aware of the correct placement of stamps on mail.

These were identified by Acting Postmaster General, Margaret Ashby, as some of the challenges being faced as letter writing becomes a ???dying art??? around the globe.

She was speaking during a prize-giving ceremony for winners of the National 2015 Letter Writing Competition, at the General Post Office???s Cheapside, St. Michael, headquarters, on Wednesday.

Noting that it was now common to communicate through the use of acronyms such as ???r??? for ???are???, ???u??? for ???you??? and ???smh??? for ???shaking my head???, Ms. Ashby lamented that such jargon was also finding its way into business correspondence.

To combat these challenges, she noted that the postal service wanted to partner with the Ministry of Education to promote letter writing in primary and secondary schools.

???We see participating in this competition as a means of fueling this drive and creating the opportunity where Barbados can return to the excellence reached in 2011, when we were awarded the gold medal in this international competition,??? she stated.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands, commended the postal service for the competition, noting that it was greatly assisting teachers in schools to replace the dying art of letter writing.

He added that such agencies were important in enhancing the island???s educational system, and were therefore considered as part of a long-term tradition that added value.

???This competition offers teachers the opportunity to benchmark the skills and writing ability of students with an international standard,??? he stated.??He told the students that while the use of the keyboard was prevalent today, writing thoughts down on a piece of paper helped to improve cognitive skills and abilities, and should not be totally left out.

This year???s letter writing competition, hosted by the Universal Postal Union, was held under the theme: Tell Us About the World You Want to Grow Up In, and saw 65 countries taking part, with 1.5 million children participating worldwide.??At the local level, there were 21 entries from three schools, with five students being awarded for their work.

Amor Knight-Mottley of Christ Church Foundation School and Xaria Bowen of Queen???s College tied for fourth place. Queen???s College also captured the remaining prizes, with Resheena Holmer copping third place; Darian Trotman, second place; and Kai Miller, walking away with the winner???s title.

Next year???s letter writing competition will be held under the theme: Write a Letter to Your 45-year-old Self, and children around the world will be encouraged to use their imagination to write a letter to themselves in the future.

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