One hundred and four hopefuls of the 16th edition of The Spelling Bee – Gh will, on Saturday, February 4, 2023, mount the stage to spell their way to the championship. The national finalists are made up of 46 boys and 58 girls representing 8 cities in the country.
The competition, which began in March of 2022, saw over 500 hopefuls – aged between 7 and 13 – receive training before being assessed through the Preliminaries, Quarter and Semi-Final levels, where all 104 national finalists emerged.
According to the organisers – Young Educators Foundation, this year’s competition has gone through improved variations for the benefit of participating students.
“We divided the country into an Accra group and a Kumasi group during the in-person Semi-Finals level to allow for every student to experience the feel of being on the Bee Stage and get accustomed to the bright lights and a large audience before the national finals. This did not use to be the case in the recent past,” Salomé Dzakpasu, Programmes Manager, explained in an interview.
She also mentioned that history is being made in this year’s competition: “The Spelling Bee has always encouraged her younger spellers who are still class and age eligible in any given year to come back. This is because experience in the Bee is what produces champions as has been seen in many of those who have won the competition here in Ghana.
“Our goal is to win the top prize in our mother competition – Scripps National Spelling Bee, USA, hence, this strategy to encourage former spellers – including former champions who are eligible – to help us realise that. For the first time in the 16-year history of The Spelling Bee, a former champion – N’Adom Darko-Asare, 2022 winner, who is still age- and class-eligible – has chosen to participate in the 2023 edition of The Spelling Bee,” she said.
When asked if this would be fair to the other participating spellers, Ms. Dzakpasu stressed that all spellers – both new and returning – receive the same resources and training, thereby giving an equitable chance.
“What should be commended is N’Adom Darko-Asare’s willingness to go through the rigours of this competition for a 4th time, knowing fully well that she may not win, or be one of the other two who will join the winner to represent Ghana in May in the US; that’s a highly mature and admirable character trait for an 11-year-old, and worth commending,” she said.
Salomé Dzakpasu also added that this year, more spellers will receive rewards and awards, including the highest honour to be conferred on a speller aside from the championship – the Queen Bee Award – and the Most Valuable Parent Award to be conferred on the most supportive parents. Other awards include the Yellow Bee, Black Drone, Bee Keeper and the Hivery.
“We are grateful to our partners who keep supporting our vision to make literacy this engaging to our young ones; literacy is at the heart of all we do at Young Educators Foundation. We remain grateful to Indomie Instant Noodles, Kellogg’s, US Embassy-Accra, DStv, Goil, Ashesi University, Rufus Green Parks, Coconut Groove Regency Hotel, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II Foundation, Citi Fm/TV and BFT.”
The Spelling Bee is a literacy programme targetted at students aged 7-13 years; it teaches them the rudiments of English language spelling and provides them with skills that will help them all their lives. The Spelling Bee is a franchise of the world acclaimed Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Ghana remains the only African country to participate. Young Educators Foundation, a Ghanaian NGO, holds the Ghana franchise.