Big Quiz is back for its fifth run

Meridian Junior College (MJC) students at a Straits Times talk leading up to The Big Quiz in 2013.
Meridian Junior College (MJC) students at a Straits Times talk leading up to The Big Quiz in 2013.PHOTO: ST FILE

Weekly primers on 12 hot topics, ranging from the impact of SkillsFuture on students to how radicalisation affects national security, will be carried in The Straits Times starting today.

These are also General Paper resources for students in their first year of junior college or equivalent, which they may use as "ammunition" for a yearly quiz.

The primers are part of the outreach for The Straits Times-Ministry of Education (MOE) National Current Affairs Quiz, which returns this year for its fifth run.

Also known as The Big Quiz, the annual event is organised by The Straits Times and MOE, with the Singapore Press Holdings Foundation as presenting sponsor.

The foundation's deputy general manager, Ms Chin Soo Fang, said: "The quiz is a creative and effective way to motivate our students to go beyond their textbooks and classrooms to learn more about the world around them. It also develops their interest in reading, thinking and sharing about hot issues in the news."

Since 2014, the quiz rounds have gone onto school campuses, following talks by seasoned journalists.

At each stand-alone round, student teams from the hosting school and its nearby schools pit their knowledge against one another.

MOE's divisional director of curriculum planning and development (division 2), Mrs Kelvyna Chan, said the "decentralised format of regional quizzes has proven to be extremely popular".

Students compete in teams of three, with the winning team receiving $600 in vouchers. Competition during previous editions of the quiz was so intense that participants would slump across the game counters after giving a wrong answer, or punch the air after nailing a difficult question.

This year, the first of five talks and quizzes kicks off on April 6 at Innova Junior College. Hosting the other rounds are Victoria Junior College (VJC), Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC), River Valley High School and Raffles Institution (RI).

Schools are gearing up for the competition in their own way.

At VJC, its current affairs co-curricular activity group will conduct training sessions for participants using the ST primers, while RI will shortlist participants through a written test. Both schools have produced previous winning teams.

ST deputy editor Ignatius Low, who is among the speakers for the talks, said: "Having a good grasp of current affairs is only one part of the game.

"Beyond the spirited competition, we hope students walk away wanting to find out more about the world and their society, which is the first step towards playing a part in their community."

Mr Fong Chun Kin, level head of General Paper for ACJC, said of the campus talks: "It will be especially useful and interesting for our students to understand different perspectives to an issue, and the joys and challenges experienced by a journalist during the coverage of major events."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'Big Quiz is back for its fifth run'. Print Edition | Subscribe