Worried by the poor reading culture and the increasing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, a non- governmental group, Spelling Bee Africa Organisation (SBAO), has expressed optimism that the proposed Inter-Regional Spelling Bee Competition will serve as a springboard for radical development of education in the country.
The Founder and Executive Director of the education body, Queeneth-Ndudim Owolabi, said the competition organised for primary and secondary school students in Ekiti State was conceptualised to promote scholarship, by way of preparing children for academic competitiveness.
In a statement issued in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Owolabi stated that the competition began in the state in 2014, where students were drawn from various schools across the state to partake in the didactic programme.
The founder revealed that efforts are now being intensified to expand the scope of participations to the six geopolitical zones to attract more dividends to the education sector.
She stated that the dwindling fortunes of educational standard in Nigeria sprang from the primary and cascaded to the secondary school level, adding that the competition was mooted to solidify the elementary cadre and promote scholarship.
Owolabi regretted that the poor reading culture among Nigerians and the increasing level of out-of-school children put at 13.2 million should be of serious concern and viable reason to partner governments at all level to tackle the scourge.
The SBAO boss said the competition where students received handsome prizes after participating and came off in flying colours at every stage of rigorous academic exercises had been having positive effects on educational development of Ekiti State since inception.
She said: “This competition started in Ekiti State in 2014 to promote reading culture and help to stop school drop-out at the primary and secondary school levels.
“Since we started, over 30,000 students drawn from various private and public schools had participated, and going by the disclosure of the state Ministry of Education, it has started contributing to the educational development of the state with such good effect, and I believe that it must be upgraded to the national level.
“In the competition being funded by private organisations and spirited individuals, the best student for the 2022 edition held in Ado Ekiti got a prize of N500,000 among other consolation prizes given to other participants.
“The sole objective and focus is to boost reading culture, build intellect and promote child education. No country can get its education right when the basic foundation is faulty, this is what we are trying to address.”
Revealing that schools in the five geopolitical zones of the country had keyed and expressed readiness to participate, Owolabi appealed to corporate organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to “partner us as we join hands to complement the efforts of governments to develop education in the country.
“Funding of education is very tasking and capital intensive, the governments can’t do it alone. It requires the services and contributions of other stakeholders.
“We appreciate the Ekiti State Government for showing interest in the academic programme. Interested schools can apply through our website: www.spellingbeeafrica.org.”