In a bid to elevate literacy levels in primary schools, the education ministry has resolved to incorporate spelling bee competitions into the education calendar, commissioner for primary education Mr Tonny Lusambu has announced.
While speaking as chief guest at the national spelling bee finals, Mr Lusambu, said spelling bee competitions would become a must have activity for all primary schools purposely to improve literacy levels among primary school children.
“We have realised there is a need to improve literacy skills in primary schools. Many children cannot write or spell even simple words. But when we make spelling bee a must in schools, this problem could be addressed,” Mr Lusambu said.
Mr Lusambu challenged parents to establish reading corners in their respective homes and ensure those corners are not tampered with. He also called upon parents to design reading timetables for their children.
Statistics released by Uwezo indicate that less than two out of 10 pupils in the third year of primary school can read or do basic mathematics in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This was ascribed to children not acquiring basic literacy skills.
The study further indicates that by the time pupils reach the last year of primary school, one out of five East African children still have not acquired the basic literacy and numeracy skills.
In Uganda the figure is four out of 10. Uwezo assessed just under 350,000 children aged six to 16 in over 155,000 households in 362 districts in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Mr Aaron Kirunda, the Njuba spelling bee founder, urged parents to participate in improving their children’s literacy levels through buying them story books, revising and reading with them and being helpful when children inquire about certain words.
“Literacy does not only mean speaking English. Teaching your child to read a word in his or her mother tongue is the vital aspect of improving literacy,” Mr Kirunda said.
Tororo Parents School emerged as the winner for this year’s national spelling bee championships, while Horizon College Jinja and Hillside Naalya came second and third positions respectively. The challenge that started in January involved 10,000 pupils, 1,000 schools where the three representatives were selected from the 26 best schools at the regional level.
Tororo Parents’ super speller, Jedidiah Kadondi, emerged as the overall winner after she spelt words that had failed others. Among the words she spelt to the judges’ amusement were pirouette, zeppelin and laureate.