A boy about six and a half years old stands on stage. About 100 pairs of eyes are trained on him. His face is shining, with anticipation and a thread of excitement. The Pronouncer hesitates. Are you sure? This child is so tiny! The little boy grins and the pronouncer goes ahead and reads the word to be spelt. There is a collective holding of breath in the hall. The boy repeats the word aloud, and his mum who is in the audience widens her eyes. Can he?
“Plagiarise. P-L-A-G-I-A-R-I-S-E. Plagiarise.”
The hall explodes in applause and a mum’s cheers. The boy beams, steps back and then runs back to his seat. The judges exchange glances and the Score keeper calls, “Three points!”
Every child after that comes up on stage with a look that says, “I can do it too.”
Although some of the words were quite obviously challenging, it was clear that children have the capacity to use their creative abilities to work out how the words should be spelt. More practice and encouragement can yield better spellers.
Mrs. Wambui Nganga, a parent who came to watch her daughter participate at Westlands Primary School said, “It is important for children to learn new words, learn how to spell and how to be confident in front of a crowd.”
Mr. Felix Mulamula, who works with Colgate Palmolive (EA) Ltd, came to watch the competition at Muthaiga Primary School. His observation was that the Spelling Bee helped the children to think, to use their imagination by arranging the letters in their minds without writing and to work as a team.
The competitions in the schools are preliminaries to the finals which will be held within the Annual Storymoja Nyamachoma Fiesta program. Storymoja Organises the Fiesta to open up the eyes of Kenyans to the life and career enhancing opportunities linked to reading and writing given that we live in an age where knowledge is the key driver for economic growth.
We believe that starting early in instilling the love of reading will be beneficial not only for the individual child’s life but also for the country’s economic development and social well being.
Come watch and support the Spelling Bee finals at the Storymoja Nyamachoma Fiesta at the Impala Club Grounds, on 10th August, 2008. Reading is Cool!