By LISE WESTAWAY, TAMMY BOOYSEN and DEMI EDWARDS
Local primary schools were abuzz for the first-ever Spelling Bee competition for Grade 3 learners in schools where the Language of Learning and Teaching is isiXhosa.
Spelling Bee competitions are a fairly common feature nationally, but they focus on the Intermediate Phase (Department of Basic Education) or English (The South African Literacy Association).
What set this Spelling Bee apart from the other Spelling Bee competitions in South Africa is that the emphasis was on Foundation Phase learners (Grade 3) and the words were in isiXhosa.
The Spelling Bee competition falls under the Vice Chancellor’s Initiative to Revitalise Public Schooling in Makhanda. The Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase) Year 1 students, together with Tammy Booysen, Demi Edwards, Linda Nelani and Lise Westaway of Rhodes University and GADRA Education, planned and facilitated the event.
Being the first event of its kind in South Africa there was a need to develop appropriate word lists. This important task was undertaken by the BEd students, Grade 3 teachers from the schools where isiXhosa is the Language of Learning and Teaching and Anelisa Mfenyana.
In the first round of the competition, the BEd students assessed every Grade 3 learner in the ten schools where isiXhosa is the Language of Learning and Teaching in the Foundation Phase.
The top five learners in each class participated in the semi-finals, held on 22 October 2021. There were three semi-final events, with three to four schools participating in each.
The finals took place in the Drill Hall on 27 October with 16 Grade 3 learners participating:
- Ifeoma Anyaegbu (Seventh Day Adventist Primary School)
- Aqhama Bacela (CM Vellem)
- Sinesipho Dingana (DD Siwisa)
- Amila Goduka (Samuel Ntsiko)
- Rene Grootboom (NV Cewu)
- Mbalentle Joyi (Fikizolo)
- Zukhane Mafani (Archie Mbolekwa)
- Bunono Makhetsi (DD Siwisa)
- Esona Mongo (Makana)
- Aluncedo Mpati (SDA Primary)
- Nosipho Ndzondzo (Archie Mbolekwa)
- Bunono Nkwinti (Makana )
- Siyolise Nonyati (Archie Mbolekwa)
- Amange Plaatjie (Samuel Ntsiko)
- Linamandla Silumko (SDA Primary), and
- Amahle Tsipha (DD Siwisa).
First place went to Amahle Tsipha (DD Siwisa), Ifeoma Anyaegbu (SDA Primary) came second and the third place went to Sinesipho Dingana (DD Siwisa). The Spelling Bee Trophy went to DD Siwisa and was received by Amahle Tsipaha, the Grade 3 teacher Olga Kehle, and the principal, Mr Gosani.
Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, opened the event and stressed the importance of education in the Foundation Phase.
The Spelling Bee competition was a huge success, with parents, teachers, principals, and the Year 1 BEd students encouraging each learner who participated in the final.
Given the success of the Spelling Bee, we look forward to many years of promoting the importance of spelling in the development of reading competence and the importance of learning in isiXhosa in the first few years of schooling.