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The Battle Begins for The Big Spell

Top 20 spellers from North, South, East, West zones to be short-listed in preliminary round

SINGAPORE, 10 March 2012 - About 1,250 pupils from 134 primary schools cocked their ears to listen out for words such as "buffoon", "poignant" and "diphtheria", trying to spell them accurately at the preliminary round of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship today (March 10).

Their goal? To gun for a place in the top 20 in their zone - and eventually become Singapore's champion speller - in the event that is organised in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The champion will win $5,000 -- the biggest cash prize in the competition's five year history -- and a trophy, while his or her school will take the challenge trophy. The first and second runners-up will get $3,000 and $1,000 cash prize respectively.

Participants had to make it past the pen-and-paper round, where 50 pre-recorded words were read out to the pupils from Primary 4 to 6, at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

At the end of the hour-long test, which started at 10 am, the scripts were collected and sealed in boxes. MOE officers will grade the papers in the next few days and rank the spellers according to the North, South, East and West zones in which their schools are located.

The top 20 pupils from each zone will compete on April 14, while the grand finals will see Singapore's top 20 primary school spellers in a showdown on April 28.

Ms Serene Goh, Editor of The Straits Times Little Red Dot weekly primary schools magazine, was pleased with the large turnout of students taking part in the preliminary round.  She said: "This is the largest turnout we've had to any Straits Times school event, and it's remarkable how serious the competition is. Our young readers are really gunning for glory, and it's really exciting to see their sporting spirit so alive. That this newspaper can give them a platform to shine is simply a joy, just to show everyone how much work they put in."

Added Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, Chairman of RHB Banking Group, the main sponsor of the spelling championship: "We are thrilled that through RHB’s sponsorship and involvement, the participation figures this year has seen a more than 50% increase compared to previous years. I am heartened to know that RHB’s contribution to the development of young minds in Singapore is well supported by the schools and our partners, The Straits Times and the Ministry of Education, Singapore.

Regardless of whether the participating students are able to make it through to the Grand Finals eventually, we hope that the National Spelling Championship has sparked their interest in spelling which will be beneficial to their mastery of the English language in the long run.”

Commenting on the good response from schools to the contest, Dr Tan Bee Geok, Deputy Director, Gifted Education of MOE, was pleased to note that the interest in spelling is growing.  Schools continued to ask for more places for their pupils in this annual competition which started five years ago.  She noted that teachers have not only been busy coaching their pupils for the competition, but have also enhanced the pupils’ awareness of the use of words and their origins.
 
MOE, which has been organising its National Spelling Championship annually since 2007, decided to partner RHB and The Straits Times because it wants to leverage on the strengths of private corporations to take the contest to greater heights for the pupils' benefit.

In the lead-up to the spelling quest and to prime students taking part in it, Little Red Dot, The Straits Times' weekly school magazine for primary school pupils, will be covering the blow-by-blow excitement of the National Spelling Championship as it unfolds, and providing tips and tricks to spelling.

The Straits Times' multimedia news portal RazorTV will also showcase video clips of the Preliminary Round, the Zonal Rounds and the Grand Final, while 91.3 FM will air info capsules on words of the day, broadcast other interesting nuggets about the spelling contest and visit selected schools for Recess Express, its school outreach segment.   

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
Co. Regn. No. 198402868E 



For more information, please contact:

Andrea Thum (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1016
HP: 85183488
Email: andreat@sph.com.sg

Khalid Khamis (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 5669
HP: 9090 0963
Email: khalidk@sph.com.sg

Joelyn Tan (Ms)
Corporate Communications Executive
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1895
HP: 9859 7161
Email: tjoelyn@sph.com.sg


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.

The Straits Times also has an online presence at www.straitstimes.com. The site features top stories, blogs and an online forum threads. Also under The Straits Times' umbrella are citizen journalism site Stomp and online television service RazorTV.

For more information, visit www.straitstimes.com.

About RHB Banking Group


Commemorating its 50th anniversary in 2011, RHB Bank was established in Singapore in 1961 as UMBC, and, through a series of rapid expansion and strategic mergers, became known as RHB Bank Berhad Singapore (RHBS) in 1999. For almost half a century in Singapore, RHBS has garnered invaluable financial experience and transferred those insights of service excellence on to clients, helping both individuals as well as corporations fulfill business opportunities. As a fully-licensed bank, RHBS’ activities cover the acceptance of savings and fixed deposits from the public as well as the provision of loans and credit facilities to individuals and corporations. Throughout the years, RHBS has built formidable ties with customers and established itself as one of the Republic’s most trusted financial institutions.

RHBS now has a network of seven branches around the island and fifteen Bureaus de Change at the Singapore Changi International Airport. RHB’s main office in Singapore is located at the bank’s wholly-owned 17-storey RHB Bank Building located at 90 Cecil Street. RHBS businesses are categorized into five (5) key areas, namely Consumer Banking, Business Banking, Corporate Banking, Treasury and Investment Banking.

RHBS is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious Service Class (S-Class) award by SPRING Singapore as well as the first and only bank in Singapore and Malaysia to be awarded the prestigious “Best Customer Experience Management of the Year Award” in banking service by APCSC Hong Kong.

For more information on RHB Bank Berhad Singapore, please visit: www.rhbbank.com.sg .