Chief Operating Officer at ICBL, Oliver Jordan, presents books donated by staff to Literacy and Assessment Officer with the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Janelle Little, during the launch of the National Junior Spelling Bee, today. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited (ICBL) launched its National Junior Spelling Bee competition this morning for Class Three and Four pupils from private and public schools.

This is to address what ICBL’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Oliver Jordan, sees as the “apparent declining standards of English”.

Approximately 120 students from 30 schools are expected to participate in the inaugural spelling bee.

“Too often…we observe poorly written letters of application and other communications, which indicate that we are having a problem with accepted 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,” he emphasized.

The COO said he believed the national spelling bee would reinvigorate a love for words and reading among young people; improve their spelling; increase their vocabulary; teach word-building concepts and instill a good use of English in participants.

He added that he expected the competition to become a staple on the yearly calendar. The spelling bee administrators comprise retired educators, who, he noted, “share our concern and vision”.

Head of Marketing and Communications at ICBL, Averil Byer, said preliminaries would take place on Thursday, October 10, and the finals on Friday, October 25.

Participants will be vying for the challenge trophy and other prizes, including computers, trips and staycations.

Ms. Byer pointed out that all participants would receive a gift no matter how they placed in the spelling bee.

She added that ICBL would not be a part of the administration of the competition “because we want to keep it as transparent as possible”.  Additionally, it will be tailored to reflect Barbadian nuances, she said.

Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Dr. Pauline Millar, thanked the organizers for conceptualizing the spelling bee which supported the efforts of the Ministry.

ICBL also presented the Ministry with a donation of books during the launch, which will be given to libraries at various schools.

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