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1,400 pupils sit for first round of The Big Spell 2014

Only the best in their zones will get a spot in the next round

Singapore, March 1, 2014 - About 1,400 primary school pupils from across Singapore gave it their all, spelling words such as "llama", "fortitude" and "longitudinal", at the preliminary round of the RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship today.
 
They were vying for a place as one of the top pupils in their zone – and eventually become Singapore’s champion speller – in The Big Spell quest, jointly organised by the RHB Banking Group and The Straits Times, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Singapore (MOE).

The champion will win $5,000 and a trophy, while his or her school will take the challenge trophy. The first runner-up wins $3,000 while the second runner-up, $1,000. 

The participants from more than 120 primary schools nationwide had to first make it past the pen-and-paper qualifying round, in which 50 pre-recorded words were read out to the pupils from Primary 4 to 6, at ITE College Central. 
 
Pupils turned up as early as 7.00am, with many of them revising commonly misspelt words and holding on to thick dictionaries and sheaves of notes. Seen in the test venue were pupils who brought a fistful of pens just in case they ran out of ink and those bundled up in thick jackets just in case it got cold. 

Once the test was over, the scripts were collected and sealed in boxes. Staff from MOE will grade these papers over the next few days and rank the spellers according to the North, South, East and West zones in which their schools are located. 

About 20 pupils from each zone will make the cut to compete at the zonal round on April 5, while the grand finals will see Singapore's top primary school spellers in a showdown on April 26.

Ms Serene Goh, Editor of Little Red Dot, The Straits Times’ weekly magazine for primary schools, said: "The Big Spell has become the mind sport to watch every year for our students. It gets more intense, standards are higher and its participants are more prepared. We can't be more excited to watch how this year's competition unfolds."

Added Ms Norazzah Sulaiman, Head of Group Governance and Corporate Services, RHB Banking Group, the main sponsor of the spelling championship: "The competition continues to be interactive and engaging. We hope to see more student participants each year as this will encourage their younger peers to also pick up the habit of reading and foster their interest in being proficient in speaking and writing in English. In addition, it's good to see the level of confidence increasing and shining through when it matters most. The RHB Banking Group will continue to strive and explore how we can continue to enhance the competition to fully realise all of the competition’s objectives whilst ensuring its relevance and role in building up young talents in Singapore."

This competition is also supported by ITE College Central, the National Library Board and tech company HP. 

In the lead-up to the spelling quest and to prime students taking part in it, a briefing for more than 100 teachers was held on Jan 28 at the SPH News Centre, at which they picked up classroom strategies and ideas to make spelling more exciting. They also exchanged ideas in a hands-on workshop and networking session.

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, as well as a series of videos of spelling tips. HOT FM91.3 will air info capsules on words of the day, broadcast interesting nuggets about the spelling contest and visit selected schools through its school outreach segment HOT ATTACK. 
 
To follow the NSC, go to www.straitstimes.com/big-spell-2014
 

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


For more information, please contact:

Joelyn Tan 
Senior Executive 
Corporate Communications & CSR
Singapore Press Holdings Limited
DID: 6319 1895
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. Quality news, in-depth analyses, impactful commentaries and breaking stories are packaged to give readers riveting accounts of events in Singapore, the region, and beyond. 

The Straits Times' key strength is in its world class coverage of news outside Singapore. With 20 bureaus in major cities around the world, The Straits Times correspondents bring world news to readers on a Singapore platter, helping them appreciate world events from a Singaporean perspective. 

In keeping with the times, The Straits Times carries weekly supplements such as Digital Life (DL), Urban and Mind Your Body (MYB) to complement The Straits Times as well as IN and Little Red Dot to cater to young readers in schools. Its many efforts have won multiple international awards from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, as well as the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association.

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

The Straits Times has won many accolades and awards, including being named Singapore Newspaper of the Year 2013 by Marketing magazine and voted Singapore’s favourite newspaper 2013 by Superbrands. The Straits Times’ website straitstimes.com also won gold in “Best In Online Media” at the 2012 Wan-Ifra Asian Digital Media Awards. 

About Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

Incorporated in 1984, main board-listed Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) is Asia’s leading media organisation, engaging minds and enriching lives across multiple languages and platforms.

Newspapers, Magazines and Book Publishing 

SPH has 19 titles licensed under the Newspaper Printing and Presses Act, of which nine are daily newspapers across four languages. On an average day, 3.05 million individuals or 76 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of SPH's news publications. SPH also publishes and produces more than 100 magazine titles in Singapore and the region, covering a broad range of interests from lifestyle to information technology. SPH's subsidiaries, Straits Times Press and Focus Publishing, produce quality books and periodicals in English and Chinese.

Internet and Mobile

Beyond print, SPH's suite of digital products, including online editions of newspapers and magazines, as well as mobile applications, enjoy over 400 million page views with 20 million unique visitors every month. Apart from AsiaOne, SPH’s online and new media initiatives include ST701, the leading online marketplace for jobs (STJobs), property (STProperty), cars (STCars) and general classifieds (STClassifieds); Stomp, omy.sg and The Straits Times RazorTV. SPH also launched The Straits Times’ iPad and enhanced iPhone applications, an Android smartphone application and The Business Times’ iPhone application. SPH’s Chinese flagship newspaper Lianhe Zaobao has also launched its digital editions which include a web application, as well as online and PDF versions.

Broadcasting

In the radio business, SPH Radio Pte Ltd operates entertainment stations UFM 100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English. SPH has a 20 per cent stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8 and U, and a 40 per cent stake in MediaCorp Press Limited, which publishes the free newspaper, Today. 

Events and Out-of-Home Advertising

SPH’s events arm Sphere Exhibits organises innovative consumer and trade events and exhibitions as well as large scale conferences in Singapore and the region. In addition, SPH has ventured into out-of-home (OOH) advertising through its digital out-of-home platform SPHMBO. 

Properties

SPH REIT is a Singapore-based REIT established principally to invest, directly or indirectly, in a portfolio of income-producing real estate which is used primarily for retail purposes in Asia-Pacific, as well as real estate-related assets. SPH REIT is managed by SPH REIT Management Pte. Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Limited. 

The initial portfolio of SPH REIT comprises the following two high quality and well located commercial properties in Singapore:

· Paragon, a premier upscale retail mall and medical suite/office property, well known for its upscale mall housing many luxury brands, located in the heart of Orchard Road; and
· The Clementi Mall, a mid-market suburban mall located in the centre of Clementi town, an established residential estate in the west of Singapore. 

The Seletar Mall is SPH's latest retail development and is expected to open at the end of 2014. This property is a potential asset to be injected into SPH REIT. SPH’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Development Pte Ltd, also developed a 43-storey upmarket residential condominium, Sky@eleven, at Thomson Road. 
For more information, please visit www.sph.com.sg

About RHB Bank Singapore

RHB Bank was first established in 1961 as United Malayan Banking Corporation Berhad. Through a series of rapid expansion and strategic mergers, RHB Bank Singapore emerged as a full-licensed bank with a network of 7 branches and operating 15 Bureau de Change outlets in Singapore Changi Airport. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of financial products and services to consumer, corporate and business 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.

For more information on RHB Bank Singapore,please log on to www.rhbbank.com.sg.