The 7th to 12th editions of Spelling Bee contest, a programme aimed at improving the spelling and literacy of children between the ages of eight to 13 years has been launched in Accra Thursday.

The aim of the competition is to enable basic school children have command over the English language and also equip their teachers with the approaches to teaching the English Language.

The Spelling Bee, organized by Young Educators Foundation (YEF) is the local version of the internationally acclaimed ‘Scripps Spelling Bee’, based in the United States of America (USA) which makes Ghana the only African country eligible to participate in event.

About 200 private and public basic schools drawn from the 10 regions in Ghana are expected to participate in this year’s competition.

Speaking at the launch, Director of Basic Education at the Ghana Education Service (GES),Stephen Adu lauded YEF for extending the contest to every region.

He said it would afford the less-endowed schools an opportunity to exhibit their intellectual prowess.

Mr. Adu bemoaned the dwindling reading habits among school children and called on educational authorities, schools, corporate organizations, international agencies, parents and guardians to help arrest it.

“Extra curricular activity like The Spelling Bee is a necessary component of a growing child as we all appreciate that academic excellence is not all one needs to succeed in life”.

Conceding that a lot needs to be done to improve the educational system, the Director of Basic Education at GES said “the fact that Ghana is the only African country participating in the international version of The Spelling Bee (Scripps Spelling Bee in USA) says a lot about our educational system”.

Mr. Stephen Adu urged pupils to take advantage of the opportunity to improve upon their English vocabulary.

On her part, Country Director of YEF, Mrs Eugenia Tachie-Menson said this year’s competition will focus on other things apart from dictation of words.

“For the first time in the history of The Spelling Bee, the evaluation of vocabulary knowledge will be formally included in the competition”.

Mrs Tachie-Menson noted that vocabulary testing will be in a written format and considered as round one before spellers go on stage to orally spell their words n rounds two and three.

According to her, the cumulative score of the vocabulary testing of rounds two and three be determine which spellers advance to round four.

YEF Country Director said this newly proposed method has been accepted by all participating schools in this year’s competition.

Mrs Tachie-Menson expressed appreciation to GES for appreciating the contest and the sponsors for their support that would help to include every pupil whether in a public or private school, in a major city, town or village, in the contest.