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Kenyan pupils can’t spell and govt is blaming mobile phones

Pupils have been warned against using technological tools to check spellings.

The Education ministry said due to advancement in technology, learners had resorted to the use of spellcheckers to autocorrect their mistakes, eroding their mastery of the English language.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang warned against the use of “spellcheckers in communication gadgets such as mobile phones, computers, tablets and laptops”.

In his statement Dr Kipsang added: “Although a spellchecker is a handy tool for general use, it will never fully take the place of educating yourself properly and polishing your vocabulary, grammar and writing skills.”


The Kenya National Spelling Bee (KNSB) programme manager Eric Mosoti said the government was spearheading literacy in English and improving the reading culture among pupils in the country.

He said KNSB research had shown people who were exposed to books and a lot of vocabulary were often good spellers.

“Those very high-achieving spellers have heightened sensitivity to those letter patterns. They can proofread and edit by identifying quite easily what parts of words might be correct or incorrect,” said Mr Mosoti.

Last year at the African Spelling Bee championships, Kenya tied with Ethiopia in the second position while South Africa emerged top.

The competition, which started last year in Nairobi, proved successful, with three champions, Alma Wanjiru (St Mary’s, Ruaka), Paul Mwangi (Bondeni Primary School, Embakasi) and Abigael Simiyu (St Mary’s, Ruaka) emerging winner, runner-up and second runner-up, respectively.


They represented Kenya in the Africa Spelling Bee Competition in Johannesburg, South Africa, emerging second out of the 10 participating countries.

The African Spelling Bee was founded in 2016 by representatives from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

They had the very first African Spelling Bee Competition in the same year in Johannesburg, South Africa, bringing together 27 national champions from each of the countries that participated.

Under the theme, “Read to Succeed” KNSB intends to promote a reading culture and help students improve their spelling, polish their vocabulary, learn concepts and develop their skills.