Spelling Bee 15th Anniversary – Remarks by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Elliott

Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Elliott at the 15th Anniversary The Spelling Bee

Remarks by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Elliott
15th Anniversary The Spelling Bee

MultiChoice Ghana (Abelenkpe)
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 10:00a.m.-12:00p.m.

I’m delighted to be here to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Spelling Bee in Ghana!  The U.S. Embassy is a proud, longtime supporter of the Spelling Bee. I know Ambassador Sullivan wishes she could be here, because she counts herself as one of the Bee’s biggest fans, especially as a former teacher.  She asked me to share that some of her fondest memories have come from interactions she had with spellers.  Like attending the Spelling Bee finals in Kumasi in 2019 and crowning Ghana’s first Spelling Bee winner from northern Ghana, Nadia Chelpang Mashoud.  In fact, she was recently in Tamale and paid a visit to her former school, Alhassan Gbanzaba Memorial School.  Earlier this year she invited the 2021 winner, Naa Koshie Manyo-Plange, and runner-ups to her residence to congratulate them – and their parents – in person, and to hear from them about their journeys with the Spelling Bee.  I was privileged to also attend and afterwards we both couldn’t stop talking about how impressed we were by their resilience, confidence, and vocabulary!  I’m happy to say I’ve also seen spellers in action, back in September 2020 when I attended the semi-finals with full COVID mitigation protocols in effect – like they are today.  I know I felt nervous just watching from the audience, and was so impressed by the poise everyone showed. These are just some of our memories of the Spelling Bee and we know there are so many more wonderful stories and experiences to share from its fifteen-year history in Ghana.

Education and literacy are U.S. government priorities in Ghana.  We know that literacy and education unlock the path to the future for young people – opening doors to individual professional and personal development, and, ultimately, economic development for Ghana as a whole

Our support to The Spelling Bee, through the Young Educator’s Foundation, is just one example of U.S. government contributions to literacy development in Ghana.  The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, supports Ghana’s Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to improve learning achievement for primary school students.  Among its many accomplishments, USAID rolled out a phonics-based approach to reading in Ghana’s 11 local languages that reached more than 700,000 students in kindergarten through grade 3 across Ghana’s 16 regions; together with the Ghana Education Service, USAID distributed more than 3 million teaching and learning materials for students, educators, and administrators.  And, when children were out of school due to the pandemic, USAID partnered with the Government of Ghana to launch a national radio program in English and 11 local languages that allowed children to continue learning.  The radio program reached children across Ghana and mitigated learning loss, particularly in reading competency, during that period.  Together with Ghanaian partners, we recently celebrated International Literacy Day, highlighting 60 years of USAID working in partnership with Ghana to collaborate in education, improve school management and performance, and strengthen quality of education.

Over the years, the U.S. Embassy’s partnership with The Spelling Bee has benefited over 10,000 Ghanaian students.  In particular, U.S. support has extended the Young Educators Foundation’s reach to students from rural communities in the Northern and Volta regions, providing opportunity for underserved students.  I’ve seen firsthand how The Spelling Bee has allowed students to gain a better understanding of English vocabulary and boosted their confidence in achieving their highest goals and dreams.  And that’s what The Spelling Bee goal and our goal really is: opening doors through literacy and education.

Congratulations to The Spelling Bee.  I wish you another 15 years of success, inspiration, and changing lives through education.