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In recognition of Literacy Week, ICBL officially launched its first National Junior Spelling Bee competition, with a media conference on September 12th 2019.

The competition is expected to reinvigorate the love for words and reading amongst our youth, improve the spelling of students; increase their vocabulary; teach word-building concepts and instill good use of English in the participants.

Chief Operating Officer, Oliver Jordan, outlined the rationale for the undertaking in his comments: “Driven by our commitment to youth development, we at ICBL recognize the need to create safe spaces…projects and activities for our children to grow and thrive, given the many negative distractions they face today. We are grateful to be in a position to provide this wholesome and productive activity for them to explore”.

He further explained: “Too often, we observe poorly written letters of applications and other communications, which indicate that we are having a problem with English and spelling in Barbados. It saddens me to admit that more and more we are seeing letters and emails riddled with shorthand text and poor grammar. As good corporate citizens, we are determined to make a difference by addressing this practice, starting with this age group of children, so we can make an impact before they enter secondary school”. 

Jordan made the point that this event will have longevity.  We see the competition as an aspirational exercise, as other children, and teachers will be inspired to do more, so that they may participate in the future. This, therefore, will not be a one-off event for ICBL, as we believe our goal is important enough for a long-term investment. We hope to see incremental progress over time. Without a doubt, this will become a staple on our yearly calendar”.

Dr. Pauline Millar, Education Officer - Language Arts, representing the Ministry of Education, expressed her gratitude to ICBL and commended the organization for having the foresight to stage such a positive event for our young children.

Head of Marketing and Communications, Averil Byer, outlined the process for the competition and acknowledged the presence of the Spelling Bee administrators, the gatekeepers of the entire competition. This, she pointed out, was to ensure complete transparency. The Administrators, who volunteered their time, are all retired educators. They are responsible for the development of the rules and methodology as well as the development of the word lists for the competition.

Some thirty schools have already confirmed their participation with a total so far of one hundred and twenty (120) competitors. Preliminary rounds will be held on October 10, where the top twelve in each round will advance to the Finals, scheduled to take place October 25. 

The launch culminated with a presentation of books, donated by the staff of ICBL, to the Ministry of Education. The donated books were received by Literacy and Assessment Officer, Janelle Little.