The National Cultural Council, Division of Culture in collaboration with the Ministry Of Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence continue their efforts to enhance the creole language among students.

The eleventh annual Primary Schools Kweyol Spelling Bee Competition was hosted on Wednesday May 19 2021. The Kweyol Spelling Bee got underway this year with representation from nine primary schools namely the Castle Bruce Primary, the Baroness Patricia Scotland Primary, Ebenezer Seventh Day Adventist Primary, Newtown Primary, Penville Primary, Roosevelt Douglas Primary, St. Luke’s Primary, Woodfordhill Primary and the Atkinson Primary.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence, Mrs. Chandler Hyacinth says the Ministry will continue to support this initiative and play their role to preserve the Kweyol Language as part of Dominica’s culture.

“Our Creole language is celebrated in so many different ways whether it is htrough our creole festivals, our songs, our music, our school activities, teaching our students words and phrases, all contribute towards the uplifting and the preservation of our cultural traditions. We within the Ministry of Education recognize that we have a huge responsibility, we have a huge role to play in instilling pride, orienting mindsets and changing perspectives on the value of creole,” Mrs. Hyacinth stated.

Mrs. Hyacinth has encouraged all schools and education leaders to join in the support of these initiatives as the Ministry seeks to expose students to the creole language, noting that “there are many benefits to us as a people pursuing all efforts to preserve this creole language.”

Komite pou etid Kweyol (KEK) alongside the Division of Culture started a pilot project over two years ago to teach creole in primary schools.

Chief Cultural Officer, Mr. Raymond Lawrence hopes to achieve an expansion of this project to all schools on island. He says the creole language being promoted today will help to communicate with Dominica’s creole speaking neighbors, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

“The language is helping us to communicate easier with our neighboring islands as well as the Haitians who are here with us in Dominica. The creole language has been a part of the roots of our culture, in that it has formed a basis for many of our folk songs, oral traditions and the lavway for one of our main traditional dances the Bele. The creole language has influenced our Cadence music and the Bouyoun and it now features as part of our radio and television news and programming. And we are now hoping that together with the Ministry of Education, we can build on further inclusion of the language in our schools, our national curriculum and give greater exposure and promotion to this beautiful language,” Mr. Lawrence stated.  

Meantime, Chief Judge for the Kweyol Spelling Bee, Mrs. Delia Cuffy-Weekes says this year has been her toughest year of judging. Mrs. Cuffy-Weekes believes that all the participants performed to the best of their ability.

“Speaking creole, listening to creole and spelling creole are different things. The spelling of creole doesn’t use the Standard English alphabet and the children handles that greatly. One of the things that gives a lot of problems is the accent and I felt that they had it down to the science. So we have to congratulate the students and the people who prepared them, the teachers, their parents and their peers I would think,” Mrs. Cuffy-Weekes added.

Nahimelle Azard of the St. Luke’s Primary School emerged the winner of the 2021 Kweyol Spelling Bee Competition. She was followed by Jahiem Sango of the Baroness Patricia Scotland Primary School and in third place Kheanellia Barrie of the Atkinson Primary.

Since the inception of the Kweyol Spelling Bee Competition in 2010, the organizers have hosted the competition every year with the exception of 2020 due to the surfacing of the ongoing covid 19 pandemic. The first Kweyol Spelling Bee winner was awarded to Kenya Aley of the St. Joseph primary school. The Paix Bouche Primary School has also managed to secure six wins thus far.