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The Straits Times' spelling quest wins World Young Reader Prize

Singapore, 10 July 2012 - A national contest which held scores of primary school pupils across Singapore spellbound for weeks, has struck a winning note in an international newspaper competition.

The Straits Times, an English flagship daily in the Singapore Press Holdings stable, won the jury commendation award in the Brand category of the WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize for its just-ended RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship, dubbed The Big Spell.

The award in the Brand category honours newspapers for outstanding marketing campaigns and community actions that engage the young.

Organised jointly with the RHB Banking Group for the first time, and in partnership with the Ministry of Education, The Big Spell drew a record 1,200 spellers from some 130 primary schools in the preliminary round held on March 10, nearly double the number in the previous contests held under the Ministry of Education banner. The nail-biting finals saw 29 top spellers battling it out before a large audience on 28 April.

The aim of the contest was to develop a greater appreciation of spelling in literacy development among primary school pupils, as well as to help promote a healthy competitive spirit.

In the lead-up to the contest, The Straits Times engaged students on various fronts and across different multi-media platforms through a range of outreach activities.

  • It ran a special eight-part series featuring spelling tips in the Little Red Dot, a weekly magazine for primary school pupils, which comes with the Straits Times.

  • It promoted the contest over radio, with 91.3 FM playing on-air spelling games, and its deejays visiting selected schools to help raise awareness of the competition and holding spelling games as part of its Recess Express programme.

  • An online site featured a spelling game, and videos of the competition rounds filmed by ST’s multimedia portal RazorTV were uploaded on its website to reach out to a wider audience.

Dr Aralynn McMane, executive director of Young Readership Development, of the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, said it was a "very easy decision" for the jury to reach on The Straits Times' entry in the Brand category.

Here's what the jury said: “The paper took a bygone idea and made it a fun, updated concept with a well-managed multimedia approach with a solid educational goal plus good monetary and circulation gains.”

Ms Serene Goh, editor of IN and Little Red Dot, who leads the ST Schools team which was on the organising committee of The Big Spell
, said: "For me, the success of the Big Spell was how so many families, schools and pupils rallied behind its competitors. This commendation seals The Straits Times' credibility in delivering quality learning material that is also just so much fun for young readers. It's a nod at how the different media under the brand - online, on ground and on air - gave a simple idea the attention it deserved, and turned it into a winner."

Partners of the The Big Spell were encouraged by the award.

Dr Tan Bee Geok, Deputy Director, Gifted Education, said: "We would like to congratulate SPH for winning this commendation award, in particular the team who worked together with our MOE officers and RHB to enable so many more primary pupils to participate in this thrilling and educational championship. We firmly believe that such partnerships can only grow from strength to strength."

Added Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, Chairman, RHB Bank Berhad: “When the RHB Banking Group first embarked on the national spelling competition in Malaysia five years ago, we had one objective in mind – to build, nurture and develop our young minds not only from an academic standpoint but also in a way that builds up the self-esteem, confidence and competitive spirit of our young generation.

"At RHB, we have set our mind towards achieving the same objective in Singapore, through our partnership with the Straits Times in the RHB – The Straits Times National Spelling Championship. The RHB Banking Group is pleased that SPH has been given the recognition for this WAN-IFRA World Young Reader Prize award.”

Ms Serene Goh will receive the prize on behalf of The Straits Times at the first Asia-Pacific Young Reader Summit on July 10 in Bangkok, Thailand.

For more information, please contact:

Andrea Thum (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1016

Khalid Khamis (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Editorial Projects Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 5669

Gary Yeo (Mr)
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1225

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 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

About RHB Bank Singapore
Established in 1961, RHB Bank Singapore is a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches situated in various locations. It also operates 15 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and commercial clients, ranging from various types of deposits and loans, treasury to investment banking.
RHB Bank Singapore is the first full bank to be conferred the prestigious S-Class (Service 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 and most recently, awarded the SQC (Singapore Quality Class) by SPRING Singapore in June 2010.
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About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Southeast Asia's leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms. It publishes 18 newspaper titles in four languages and over 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region. On an average day, – 2.92 million individuals or 74 percent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH’s news publications. SPH’s internet editions of its major newspapers enjoy over 330 million page views with 18 million unique visitors each month. Other new media initiatives include AsiaOne,, ST701, Stomp and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH has also ventured into book publishing, broadcasting, out-of-home advertising and properties.