Reading festival brings first Sesotho Spelling Bee to Mangaung

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Children looking for a book to read during recess at the Reading Festival at Lourier Park Library. PHOTO: PULANE CHOANE

“What do librarians take with them when they go fishing? Answer: Bookworms!”
These were the kind of jokes you might have found yourself chuckling at if you were attending the Reading Festival for children aged between 9 and 14 last week.
In celebration of Literacy Week 2016, the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) embarked on a Reading Festival, which took place from 5-9 September 2016 at the Lourier Park Community Library in Bloemfontein.
SACR extended invitations to public libraries across South Africa. The libraries then sent out public notices to learners who are users of the respective libraries to enter for the competition. A reading club, with a prescribed set of books, was established and the strongest learners to come out from those clubs in terms of reading, spelling and public speaking were then entered into the competition as participants.

One of the young contestants participating in the Sesoth Spelling Bee. PHOTOS: PULANE CHOANE
One of the young contestants participating in the Sesoth Spelling Bee. PHOTOS: PULANE CHOANE

Activities that form part of the competition included a Reading Quiz, Spelling Bee, Reading aloud and Public Speaking. Also, for the first time since the establishment of this initiative in 2012, the Sesotho Spelling Bee was a part of the Reading Festival competition, for the Grade 3 learners only. Another first was the inclusion of Finger-spelling for the hearing disabled Grade 9 learners. Apart from these, there were games for the young ones to play inbetween the sessions, which comprised word puzzle games and storytelling.
Nomabhaso Ramugondo of the Free State SACR, also added that in light of Heritage Month and National Literacy Month, is important for learners to learn their home languages before learning others, hence the department included Sesotho in the competition this year.

A group of girls who were participants at the Reading Festival having lunch.
A group of girls who were participants at the Reading Festival having lunch.

Meanwhile, Cathy Dlodlo reported that the MEC of Education, Tate Makgoe, said the competition was tough but spirits were high. He said: “The kids are wonderful and enjoy what they are doing. I am also excited because their knowledge of English, especially their phrasing, it is exciting to me. I realise a lot of teachers are doing a good job on the ground. The debates were exciting because they were quoting politicians, media people and celebrities and it shows they did a lot of research to substantiate the points they were making.” – Pulane Choane
pulane@centralmediagroup.co.za