Book clubs shine at provincial contest



Sarah Baartman’s libraries and school children shone recently at the provincial debating and spelling bee competition in Mount Frere. Seven districts competed to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the National Book Week following a district-level competition held earlier in Ndlambe. 

Of around 80 school children in the Alexandria round, only 13 travelled to Mount Frere to compete. 

“The standard was very high,” Assistant Director for Sarah Baartman Libraries Unathi Nciweni  said. “Our kids did well.”

The children who placed third received a Kindle, those in second place were awarded a tablet, and the winners received a laptop.

Makhanda was well represented by Grade 11 Mary Waters pupil, Baye Fall, who participated in the debate. Made up of Tiffeney Lyons from Koukamma, Asemahle Lose from Ndlambe and Fall, the team placed second overall in the provincial competition and went on to George in the Western Cape to compete in the national event. 

There, they opposed the motion: “The learning environment is hostile: Government is not doing enough to keep it safe”.

Mary Waters High School Principal Faith Coetzee said she was elated at Fall’s achievement. “He is confident,” she said. “I look forward to watching his progress.”

Fall and several of his friends who competed in the local event held several weeks ago were asked to join the Currie Street Community Library book club by Fall’s Grade 9 Afrikaans teacher Bernadine Thomas. 

“He is one of the strong learners,” Thomas said. Fall and his friends used to sit in the front of the class, according to Thomas. “He wants to strive for more,” she said. “His friends and him would even ask for extra classes.”

Fall’s mother, Noluthando, who works at Rhodes University expressed her pride at her son’s achievement. “When he found out, he kept saying, ‘They picked me to represent them, Mama. They picked me’,” she said.  “I asked him who he was representing, his school?” ‘No’, he said. ‘The province’.”

Noluthando wasn’t able to go and watch her son compete, but said she was supporting him every step of the way. 

Here is the list of Sarah Baartman winners from the provincial event:

Spelling Bee in isiXhosa: First place to Asemahle Qwazi from Koukamma

Spelling Bee in English: First place to Banoyolo Gema from Ndlambe

Spelling Bee in Afrikaans: Second place to Nicole Plaatjies from Dr Beyers Naude

Book Review in Afrikaans: First place to Raynisha Williams from Sundays River

General Knowledge: Second place to Natasha Gamede from Koukamma

Afrikaans Reading: Second place to Amore Peterson from Dr Beyers Naude 

isiXhosa Reading: Third place to Othanwayo Veto from Ndlambe

English Reading: Zintle Fila from Sundays River

The District Department will take six learners to the national event.

This was the first time that Sarah Baartman fielded a team at the national Funda Mzantsi Reading Championship, now in its 10th year, at the George Civic Centre.

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