Christian Brothers College (CBC) student, Shealtiel Msitini, won the recent Zimbabwe Spelling Bee competition which was held online.
The competition attracted more than 40 Zimbabweans students who are based in different countries including the United States of America, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
Fourteen-year-old Msitini emerged the winner after correctly spelling the word “forfeiture”. He walked away with a laptop and automatically secures a place on the Zimbabwe Spelling Bee team which will compete in Nigeria in the African Spelling Bee Championships scheduled for next year.
In an interview with Play Ground, Msitini said he was excited to win after a tough competition.
“Being the youngest in our family, I had to learn to defend myself, hence I always want to win. It is fun knowing something about everything and one way is to learn a new word every day.
“My English teacher in Form One would always introduce a new word each time I walked into the classroom. When I was in Grade Six, I read an article in The Saturday Herald’s Cool Lifestyle about this competition and I said to myself one day I will win this competition. I enjoy being challenged and I love chess,” he explained.
“I felt intimated on the day of competition after noticing different students from various schools and countries. However, I got all my words correct and now as an ambassador, I am hoping to scoop the grand prize in Nigeria. I still have a long way to go but I think I can make it,” he said.
The competition drew students between the ages of 12 and 17 years, who at first register to participate at district level and if they are successful they go to the next round which is the provincial, then national level.
Provincial winners and national Spelling Bee winners are awarded various prizes, including scholarships and participation at the Africa Spelling Bee Championships.
The Spelling Bee programme is governed by fundamental rules of procedure that must strictly be adhered to by both the spellers and the jury.
According to the organisers of the competition, the Zimbabwe Spelling Bee’s aim is to help Zimbabwean children learn to enjoy reading and the possibility that words have to offer.
“This programme offers Zimbabwean students an opportunity to exhibit their proficiency in the art of spelling. The programme is intended to increase a culture of wide learning among young Zimbabweans.
Says Zimbabwe Spelling Bee director, Advocate James Bayanai: “Zimbabwe faces serious challenges around its basic education system and many children still leave primary and secondary school without the necessary literacy or numeracy skills to progress to tertiary education or into the world.
“It is a literacy and educator capacity-building initiative that is tackling this challenge head on.”
He highlighted some of the aspects and components involved in the programme.
“It includes a real time educator empowerment programme through which educators are ‘instructed’ on how to teach spellings, spelling rules and word construction through a series of games and activities.
“At the school level, Spelling Bee Competition, which research shows help students improve their spelling, increases their vocabularies, learning concepts, and develops correct English usage. Every year we receive over 5 000 entries,” he said.
The Zimbabwe National Spelling Bee winners go on to participate at the Africa Spelling Bee Championships.
Since 2015 the Zimbabwe Spelling Bee team has participated in the African Spelling Bee Championships that have taken place in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.