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National spelling bee to improve Kenya kids literacy

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spelling bee 2Kenyan children have the chance to participate in a national spelling bee that has been organized by the Kenya National Spelling Bee Championship in bid to enrich their English vocabulary.

“We started the competition because we not wanted to help make our children become better spellers but to also combat the children literacy levels in our country,” said Kennedy Odoyo, one of the founders of the championship. “Our generation of children are notorious for using the letter ‘X’ place the letter ‘S’ a trend that can affect their language especially in composition writing.”

Unlike other spelling bees where, the participants should only know how to spell the word, in this one’s case, they should also know the different meaning of the word and know how to use it in a sentence.

Odoyo was inspired to start the spelling bee after playing a part in one while residing in the US. “We borrowed the concept in the US and I was fortunate to be on the panel of one and I really enjoyed it, so I thought it would be a good idea to start one in the country.”

The spelling bee process starts from within the schools; the head teachers are obligated to carry out competitions in the different classes (from Class one to eight). The winners move on to the sub county level, where winners from the different schools in the sub county compete against each other. The winners from the sub county levels will then battle it out with their county level counterparts and then the winners from the county level move on to the national level.

“The competition does not stop there, the winners of the national level will move on to the African spelling bee championship will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa later this year,” said Odoyo. “There are also prizes for the winners at each level; for example the winners of the sub county level will win a six month supply of milk for the whole term for their school, there will be shopping vouchers and even trophies for the winners.

“The rewarding of the pupils and students is part of the process, we do not want them to feel as if that it is just another school program that they have been forced to take part in, we want them to have fun as they learn.”

The process of the championship started last year in November but the competition started this year in January. “In November, we were training with the head teachers and the heads of language at the schools on how to incorporate spelling bees in the syllabus. The competition then started this year after we had finished the training.”

To avoid bias, secondary teachers have been selected to judge the primary school competition and University language lectures have been selected to judge the secondary competition.

The organization works with the Kenya Primary Head teachers Association and the Kenya Private School Association, in order to register both public and private for the completion which are in the rural and urban areas.

The competition will be taking part annually and at the moment it will only be in English but he organizers want to expand it in order to incorporate other languages such as Kiswahili and maybe even the vernacular languages.

The finals of the sub county levels will take place between 4th and 10th March and those of the County finals will take place on the 25th March.

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