The International Federation of Newspaper Editors awarded its Golden Pen of Freedom yesterday in Lisbon to South African editor Anthony Heard, who faces possible imprisonment for publishing an interview with Oliver Tambo, the exiled president of the African National Congress. Heard, the editor of the Cape Times, is scheduled to stand trial next month in Cape Town. He could face up to three years' imprisonment.

"I happen to take my profession seriously," Heard said upon accepting the award. "Mr. Tambo happens to be an increasingly important player in the crisis unfolding in my part of the world, and I believe authentic journalism can't ignore that fact."

He also appealed to the Soviet Union to release Yuri Shikhanovich, the editor of the unofficial "Chronicle of Current Events," which arose after the 1975 Helsinki accords on European security and cooperation but has been suppressed. End Notes

Christa McAuliffe was honored yesterday at Framingham State College, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1970. McAuliffe's mother Grace Corrigan accepted an honorary doctorate of human letters for her daughter along with McAuliffe's husband, Steven McAuliffe. Corrigan said that her daughter, who died aboard the space shuttle Challenger earlier this year, was a hero because she always did her "ordinary best," not because she was the first civilian in space . . .

Queen Elizabeth II left Kentucky for home yesterday after five days of looking over thoroughbred breeding stock. "She's seen a lot of horses," said the queen's assistant press secretary, John Haslam, "and any more would have been enough to have given even the queen horse indigestion" . . .

Hue Cao, an 11-year-old Vietnamese immigrant who won a Statue of Liberty essay contest in Hawaii, now has a $9,500 scholarship fund waiting to help further her education. The money comes from Saturday's auction of a 1987 Nissan Sentra XE that was the top prize in the Aloha Liberty Foundation contest. Federal regulations restrict welfare families from having more than $1,500 worth of resources. The car would have put Hue's family over the limit, but the scholarship money is exempt. The winning bid came from Ralph Rodgers, president and general manager of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Hue received a congratulatory call from President Reagan, and she will end up with a car, too. An anonymous donor agreed to buy one for $1,499 and give it to her family, who moved to Hawaii after fleeing Vietnam in 1979 in a small fishing boat. In addition, Hue will receive an expenses-paid trip to New York for the Statue of Liberty rededication ceremonies July 4 . . .

An unspecified reward that was described as being in five figures was offered yesterday for information leading to the recovery of 11 major paintings stolen in Ireland last week. Dr. James White, trustee of the collection, said information would be "very amply rewarded." The Irish police say they do not have any leads to finding the paintings, which are valued at $45 million and include works of Vermeer, Goya and Rubens . . .