Schools, pupils, parents cart away prizes at competition
Forty-five students, drawn from 15 schools within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), recently battled at a national spelling bee contest to win amazing prizes that made their teachers, schools and parents proud. REGINA OTOKPA takes us through the thrills and frills:
A journey that begun with 60 schools in March 2021, finally ended on Saturday, with nine winners emerging from the three categories of senior, junior and primary schools category. It was the second annual Dr. Ibrahim Liman Spelling Bee Competition, organised by Merry Bell Academy.
The competition was designed primarily to boost students vocabulary with a challenge to learn new words and apply them in their daily activities. Jam packed with students drawn from various schools, it was a fun filled event that had the building and environment vibrating with the sounds of excitement from students, teachers and parents, as the students raced against time to spell their way to the top.
Besides the main activity of the day, they were varieties of programmes to keep the excitement rolling, including the parents competition to test how vast they were with issues concerning the society in which they live.
The competition kick started in March with 60 schools but after the first preliminary competition, 30 schools scaled through, from which the 15 schools that emerged to the final round of spelling bee contest, made it past the 2nd preliminary competition.
After a mind blowing contest, nine students; three from each of the school categories of primary, junior and senior secondary, made it to the top, clinching star prizes.
Students, who came third in all three categories won a bicycle each; those in second position won a 24- inch television set each, while the three students who came in the first place in all three categories carted home a refrigerator each.
Parents who won their competitions were not left out as they earned some gifts, while consolation prizes were given to students and schoo
that participated in the competition. According to the Director, Chief Executive Officer, Merry Bell Academy, Gloria Jeremiah Peters, the intra school spelling bee competition was primarily to uncover hidden talents.
He said: “We are here to give that Nigerian child the platform to showcase his literacy ability through the medium of spelling. We as a school believe that there is a hidden potential in every child and has decided to annually give this children here today, the road Map in achieving their dreams as is the goal of Merry Bell.
“As a school, our goal towards this competition is to improve spelling and increase the vocabulary of the children.
We also want to achieve developing the correct use of English, build the child’s self confidence, ensure competitiveness build cognitive skills that will help the child develop a range of skills which includes ability to handle pressure.”
Peters who reeled achievements of the school in the last seven years of its existence, said students from the Academy have participated in various competitions; Royal Mathematics Competition, National Mathematics Centre maths Competition and Eman spelling competition .
While considering government’s stance to weed out unqualified teachers from schools, she said the school does not compromise in employing qualified teachers. “We employ seasoned teachers and also train them on regular basis to meet up with the dynamic nature of the teaching profession,” he said. On his part, Controller Gen
eral, Federal Fire Service, Ibrahim Liman, who is a major sponsor of the competition, emphasised the importance of such contests in building formidable young people who would lead the country tomorrow.
“It was not easy going by what we went through in the 60s and 70s and so when i saw the young generation coming up, I promised to do everything possible to encourage our young ones so they can have a good education and we can have good leaders in future. “If we get it right in the beginning we won’t have problems later but if we have it bad it won’t be good for the country.
“During our time it was not spelling competition, it was quiz which helped groom members. Its not easy to spell or pronounce some words and these pupils catch up so fast. I am highly impressed and next year will be bigger and better,” he said.
Liman encouraged parents to pay more attention to the educational needs of their children despite a tight work or business schedule, support and motivate them into becoming better students.
“As a trained educationists I can tell you we have three category of students in the classroom; those whom you teach once and don’t need to repeat again, there are those whom when you teach once, twice they understand what you are saying, and there are those whom you have to dedicate the whole period of learning.
“Whatever happens, learn to encourage your child, parents should create conducive environment for their children at home, employ lesson teachers for them particularly teachers from same school, support, motivate and encourage them so you don’t breed bad leaders for tomorrow. “Also, parents should encourage, appreciate and motivate their teachers, we can’t leave everything to the government,” he said.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Shehu Shinkafi, described the spelling bee competition as a laudable initiative that should be undertaken by all schools in the country to further help in expanding the educational scope of students. He said there was the need to expand the contest to involve an annual mathematics competition to be organised by Merry Bell Academy,
“This kind of competition should be encouraged because it helps to develop the youths to sharpen their English. Nigeria is an anglophone nation and English is the official language so we can never run away from English. No matter any subject you pass, you need Maths and English to pursue your career in future.
“I really want to encourage other schools to follow suit but not only in organising competition in English language but also in mathematics.”
Noting the relevance of the traditional institution to promoting education especially amongst the low class, the Emir of Jama’a, Mohammadu Mohammed, noted the relevance of the traditional institution in promoting education especially amongst the low class.
He said no parent in the present dispensation was reluctant to send their children or wards to school. He however, said many are unable to do so with the harsh economic situation most people have found themselves.
Represented by Seriki Gadan Jama’a, Suleiman Isah, he also urged communities to own the fight against insecurity by assisting security agencies in order to create safe spaces for students to be able to continue their education uninterrupted by any form of criminality. He said: “No parent is reluctant you have to consider the hardship and situation of the country.
This is a very laudable initiative others should emulate. It is interesting and the best thing parents can give to their children is education. As you know, education is a tool for modelling citizens to become better people in the nation.”