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Spelling Bee SL Goes Continental For The First Time

By Ibrahim Sangba

The Founder and Executive Director of Initiative in Capacity Building Association International (ICBAI) and also Save the Dignity of Women and Children in Sierra Leone (SDWCSL) and who is popularly known as the Creative Director of the Sierra Leone Spelling Bee, Mrs. Isata Musu Harding, has confirmed to NewsWatch that Sierra Leone has been invited to take part in the African Spelling Bee for the first time in Uganda, Kampala. She however expressed her worry about funds and resources.

“While other countries are now in full preparation for the forthcoming African Spelling Bee, we are yet to secure our own funds for the trip.” Mrs. Harding said.

Speaking to this medium about how Spelling Bee started and what it is trying to achieve, Mrs. Harding said that in the recent past and currently, we have been complaining about the falling standards in education in our country, which once boasted of academic prowess, in the West African sub-region, but not much has been done about it.

“Reading’ and ‘writing’ are fundamental in all educational processes.  English occupies a very pivotal position in our system being both the official as well as the language of instruction at all levels of our educational system.  This is why I the founder, and creative Director of Sierra Leone Spelling Bee, and my team have joined hands to inculcate a reading habit and change the none-existent reading culture in Sierra Leone” she said.

Mrs. Harding said that the idea of the Spelling Bee came to her from a video cassette she got from a friend, called ‘Arki and the Bee’, which she reproduced and shared with a proposal to organisations for sponsorship. She said she wanted to implement it here in Sierra Leone but all her efforts did not yield any fruit.

“Even though I did not get any support at the beginning, I kept my dream alive because I have passion for the development of women and children in Sierra Leone. Spelling Bee came to reality when I got job at London Mining and I was able to use my little salary on organising Spelling Bee competitions” she revealed, adding that the first national Spelling Bee competition she organised was entirely sponsored by herself.

Mrs. Harding was however quick to note that since the arrival of the New Direction Government and the introduction of the Free Quality School Education by President Bio, She has attracted the attention of the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Alhaji Timbo, who has agreed to work in partnership with her to organise the 2nd National Spelling Bee competition in Sierra Leone.

She revealed that this competition will be held at District, regional and national levels in November, 2019.

“Let me use this opportunity to inform the general public of Sierra Leone that the 2nd National Spelling Bee Competition will commence in November and ICBAI is delighted to offer competitions for our Elementary, Junior  Secondary, senior secondary, Tertiary Institutions and colleges. These competitions are designed for the purpose of allowing our students to gain valuable experiences through the process of competition and evaluation in which every participant is a winner. We want our young people to develop their talents and have a platform to display their God given abilities. On behalf of my team, I thank everyone for his or her help and support in achieving this goal,” she announced.

When asked about the successes she had made over the years through the Spelling Bee, Mrs. Harding said that she is proud that some students in the University and other tertiary institutions are products of the Spelling Bee because it helped to build their language, vocabulary, identification of synonyms words, mastering their writing and speaking skills.

“I am also a proud beneficiary of Spelling Bee, as my spelling skills are far better than before now. Spelling Bee also played significant role in my Children’s spelling and speaking abilities and has contributed greatly to their academic prowess. My 18-year old son is making remarkable progress in his university presently,” she added.

She said that despite the new opportunities, the organisation still has a lot of challenges.

“We have been in existence for over a decade now but we have not been able to get an office space” she lamented, adding that she would like to thank Amnesty International for accommodating them in their office and making all their office facilities available to them.

She also expressed her disappointment at the attitude of teachers she normally hires to help her with competitions, saying that some do not to recognise the fact that she is actually complementing their efforts.

“Few of these teachers join me only for the material benefit though other committed ones are there. In addition, unscrupulous individuals are bent on hijacking the ‘Spelling Bee’ programme by trying to partner with the patentor instead of me” She opined.

Mrs. Harding ended by calling on the attention of the public to embrace and help sustain the Spelling Bee and appealed to sponsors to help her take Sierra Leone International for the first time in the history of Sierra Leone.

“There is nothing too little to support the Spelling Bee. Financial and material supports are welcome. You may contact us on +232 76374842/88780700/ Rokel commercial Bank or Eco Bank. Spelling bee, is the best ‘pikin program na salone’” she ended.

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