East Africa Spelling Bee

Spelling bee is the English word spelling competition in which participants are asked to spell abroad spectrum of words from the English Oxford dictionary usually with varying degree of difficulty at each level of the competition. The Spelling Bee is a Project of Pepea Africa Initiative. Pupils aged between 8 – 15 years are encouraged to spell English words read out to them by a panel Judges during the competition.


Education in East Africa is widely seen as one of the most promising paths for individuals to realize better lives as well as the primary factor of national economic development. The citizens and the government of East African Countries have invested heavily in improving both the access and quality of education with a view to realize the promise of education and to achieve the education-related Sustainable Development Goals. However there are still more challenges that act as a block towards attaining the quality of education desired specifically looking at the Literacy program.

According to Uwezo Assessment in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in the year 2013. In all three countries, the Uwezo Assessment reached a total of 326,610 children aged between 6-16 years in 366 districts and was carried out in a random sample of about 150,000 households According to the Report, two out of three pupils enrolled in Standard 3 in East Africa do not have Standard 2 level literacy or numeracy skills. Even more worrying is the fact that one out of four Standard 7 pupils do not have Standard 2 literacy and numeracy skills. The Report states that about 25% of Standard 7 children remain unable to pass the literacy and numeracy UWEZO tests set at the Standard 2 level. Since 2011, the regional bloc has considered harmonizing its education systems and training curricula in the fields of education, science and technology, as well as culture, sports and youth affairs, but the dream is still hampered by structural and financial constraints.

   It is against this background that Pepea Africa Initiative spearheaded efforts to rekindle children’s love of reading and literacy through the Spelling Bee Project, a unique intervention because incorporates fun in learning, promotes socialization, helps to develop children’s confidence, presentation and cognitive abilities and thus positively shaping their attitudes for life as well as enabling them to stay in school longer.

Project goal
To create a platform to promote literacy through fun and learning in pre-primary, primary schools and secondary schools in the East African region.

Target population
The project’s main beneficiaries are primary school going children. It also involves other stakeholders like teachers, parents, our partners, and the general public.

Project scope
Geographically, the East African Spelling Bee project runs in 6 countries; Uganda,  kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, and Rwanda. This year our aim is to reach over 6,000 schools in the East African region.

To provide a favorable learning atmosphere with equal opportunities where all targeted children can confidently express themselves and compete at National and International platforms

To create a platform to promote literacy through fun and learning in primary schools  in the East African region
To provide a favorable learning atmosphere with equal opportunities where all pupils can express themselves, participate, and compete confidently in both National and International schools in East Africa.


  • To improve the reading culture of children in primary schools in both rural and urban schools across the East African region
  • To promote learning of new concepts and develop correct English word pronunciation and usage
  • To gradually build articulation and self-confidence among the participants
  • To contribute to developing children’s life skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, and presentation
  • To inculcate a spirit of cooperation and oneness among stakeholders in the East African region


Registration – Schools and individuals interested are called upon, identified and enrolled in the competition. At registration, each individual receives the East African spelling bee handbook, 2 story books and 2 DVDs. The official word lists are derived from the handbook and the storybooks provided. The selected storybooks are used by all participating Countries to ensure uniformity and transparency.

Training of Coaches/ Teachers – Pepea Africa Initiative will carry out training for trainers to enhance their performance and quality of work delivered,   

In- school competitions – this stage allows the child to engage in a healthy competition amongst his fellow pupils in school, only 2 of the best are selected from each school.  Competition in a familiar and supportive setting builds confidence. 

Regional competitions – After in-school competitions, the next level is regional competition, where schools in a particular region come up with two participants and 30 participants are chosen to participate at the National level

National level competition – After the regional level, best six participants are chosen from every Country to quality for the East African Spelling Bee Competitions

East African Spelling Bee Competitions – all the participating countries present their best six to compete at this level.  Different prizes are awarded among which include trophies (1 for the winner and another for his/her country), medals and a trip to Zanzibar for all those that qualified for this level.