Several students from a number of primary schools who gathered last Saturday at the Barbados Community College for the launch of the Barbados Agricultural Society’s (BAS) 2nd Annual National Spelling Bee Competition, were given a timely reminded of the importance of service to community.

Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, in commending the BAS for persisting with the competition and the Caribbean Development and Training Inc. for volunteering its services, said: "If we can get more persons in our country really volunteering that would be so much better for Barbados."

And, he linked this call to the need for assistance in the wake of recent destruction by Tropical Storm Tomas, urging young people to volunteer "to help clean up the streets and beaches of our country".

He said: "You can volunteer in your communities to clean and mobilise the services of the Drainage Unit, the Sanitation Services Authority, and the National Conservation Commission, then to help cart away all of the debris, which is still very much strewn across the country.

"We are a small country without all of the resources that others might have. But, if our people become engaged in cleaning what is our own, then nobody would have to tell us anything that is derogatory or otherwise about ourselves."

??The Minister stressed that this [voluntarism] was really the genesis and basis of working for the fullest development of our country. He explained: "If we simply sit back and rely on the Government to do everything, then we become stilted and would not be able to get as many things done as we need to. ??The Government in a democracy is our people but in every situation we need a few people, to help manage the process. Citizens must fully participate in the Government and in the governance of the country."

The BAS was further complimented for involving the young primary school students, since, as the Minister noted, "spelling is an important aspect of language arts and literacy development in our country."

Mr. Jones also emphasised that the aim of the competition was not necessarily about who would win, but represented an opportunity for students "to really engage each other in what can only be called mental combat".

He said: "I think that is the best kind of combat to have; when you engage your minds in the kind of well-articulated pursuits such as this Spelling Bee."

The students also heard that, a very testing social studies quiz would be introduced by the Education Ministry, in 2011, to test their knowledge on Barbados, including places of interest, our leaders and the history of the country. According to the Minister, the quiz would target students in the first term of class four.

Sixteen primary schools are currently participating in the competition, which according to the BAS Chief Executive Officer, James Paul, is part of a series of activities leading up to Agrofest 2011.??

The schools are: Welches Primary, St. Gabriel’s, Luther Thorne Memorial, Al Falah, Roland Edwards, Vauxhall Primary, The Rock Christian School, George Lamming, Wilkie Cumberbatch, St. Silas Primary, Trinity Academy, West Terrace Primary, Lawrence T. Gay, St. James Primary, Hilda Skeene and Belmont Primary.

Last year, Welches Primary emerged winners of the inaugural competition. Trinity Academy took second place, while Luther Thorne Memorial placed third.??

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