Singapore, 27 April 2013 - Singapore's champion speller is Ashvin Sivakumar, 12, a Primary 6 pupil of Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), who beat 30 others in the final showdown of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship earlier today.
He spelled his way to the top spot at the Padang Collyer Ballroom at Raffles City Convention Centre after spelling correctly the word "pulchritudinous” in the 10th round, knocking out his opponent, Kua Le Yi, 10, from Catholic High School (Primary), who was named the first runner-up. The second runner-up was Loi Si Xian, 11, from Raffles Girls' Primary School.
In the most competitive round of the spelling quest lasting more than two hours this morning, the 31 finalists, who had earlier battled through two exciting rounds - the Preliminary on 9 March and the Zonals on 13 April - slugged it out on stage, facing a judging panel from the Ministry of Education, English Language Institute of Singapore, The Straits Times, the National Library Board and the Speak Good English Movement. The convention hall was packed with fellow student supporters, teachers, principals and parents.
Each finalist took turns to spell aloud the words read out by a pronouncer, spelling their way through more than 100 words. As the rounds progressed with increasing difficulty, they were eliminated one by one after getting tripped up by words such as "prognosticate" and"malocclusion". The decisive final round narrowed down to Ashvin Sivakumar and Kua Le Yi before Ashvin was declared the champion.
For his hard-fought victory, Ashvin took home $5,000 and the Challenge Trophy for his school, while the other two top spellers won $3,000 and $1,000 respectively. The top winners in the four zonal rounds each received $500 cash and $100 worth of book vouchers at the prize presentation today. All finalists were also each given a medal.
In the Big Spell Digital Challenge finals, held on the sidelines of this morning's competition, Lim Qing En Gabriel, 11, from Lakeside Primary School emerged the champion, after two rounds - first against nine other top players from the leaderboard, and then two rivals in the final round. The online spelling game, iSpell iGNITE, is a new component this year fuelled by education technology firm iQ-hub to extend the competition’s reach to more pupils. The other two winners are Shen Zhen Yang, 10, from Nan Hua Primary School, and Tan Chee Heng, 10, from Bukit View Primary School. All three won a Samsung tablet each.
Guest-of-honour Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Education and Manpower Ministries, was represented by Mrs Chua Yen Ching, Director of Curriculum Planning and Development Division of the MOE. Delivering his speech for him, shecommended the contestants for taking spelling seriously. "You've already got much to be proud of: You’ve made it to the top of 1,400 participants, and it’s clear that you have the talent and gumption for this challenge," she said.
She added that he hoped the pupils would apply the same determination in their studies and in their pursuits, just like last year's champion Jordan Foo, who applied "his high standards in one area to other areas because he wants to do his best in everything he undertakes".
In his opening address, Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of The Straits Times, said spelling is not just about memorising words, and he urged students to read widely, "pay attention to English words, appreciate their texture, structure and idiosyncrasies".
He added that for The Straits Times, the contest was in line with its core beliefs, "in the value of reading, writing and staying in touch with what is going on in the world". "To be able to read and understand, you must be able to spell well the proper way, not in Net or SMS speak," he said.
Chairman of RHB Banking Group, Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur to catch the finals, said of the spelling quest: “We believe that it is our responsibility to help the youth of today to uncover their true potential and develop into a well-rounded workforce of tomorrow. We are hopeful that our action will build an informed generation of confident, competitive and motivated individuals who will eventually become successful in their own right.”
Dr Tan Bee Geok, the Ministry of Education's Deputy Director for Gifted Education, said she hoped an annual competition such as this one would help to generate greater interest in reading and in acquiring a rich vocabulary among primary pupils, as well as raise their standard of written language through a good choice of words and accurate spelling.
The contest, open to Primary 4, 5 and 6 pupils, drew a record number of about 1,400 students in the Preliminary round. Co-organised by RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, this second edition of The Big Spell was fuelled by iQ-hub and supported by the National Library Board.
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About The Straits Times
The Straits Times, the English flagship daily of SPH, has been serving readers for more than a century. Launched on July 15, 1845, its comprehensive coverage of world news, East Asian news, Southeast Asian news, home news, sports news, financial news and lifestyle updates makes The Straits Times the most-read newspaper in Singapore.
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