The third edition of the InterswitchSPAK competition kicked off in May 2021, with 18,000 students from 1,800 schools participating in the National Qualifying Examination, following which 81 students were selected to continue to the next phase.
These successful participants are competing for the grand prize of N12.5 million in scholarships, which will be shared among the first, second, and third winners. The first winner will receive N7.5 million worth of scholarships, monthly stipend, a laptop and the bragging rights as the Best Science Student in Nigeria. The second-place winner gets N4 million worth of scholarships, a laptop and monthly stipend while the third-place winner gets N1 million worth of scholarships.
To date, there have been nine episodes televised, with each episode comprising a Foundation Round and an Advanced Round. During the foundation stage at the start of each episode, the initial 9 candidates are shortlisted to 5 candidates based on their speed and accuracy in responding to a set of 16 questions. The top 5 candidates are then shortlisted for the advanced stage.
At this stage, there is the ‘Take a Turn’ round that ranks the candidates in the order in which they will give fast-paced answers to multiple questions within a given time frame. The best three candidates from the advanced stage automatically qualify for the semifinals.
In this season of InterswitchSPAK, one key observation is the absence of the studio audience, a deviation from the previous editions. This glaring difference is understandable, due to the protocols and precaution necessitated with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first episode kicked off with the usual adrenaline rush, with candidates obviously nervous and anxious to outperform the others. One observation about the first episode was the absence of a female participant, although this changed in subsequent episodes that have aired. The participants were all clearly brilliant students, although, only the top three candidates made it to the semifinals.
In the second episode, things looked up in terms of gender balance, as three female candidates were featured. It was admirable that the candidates were visibly more relaxed, and there were more right answers supplied by the superspaks in this episode than were given in the previous episode.
Spaksters in the second episode gave impressive and timely answers to the questions thrown at them in the Advanced Round of the competition. The brilliance in their responses almost led to a tie between two of the participants, and the one female standing – of the three that appeared – held her ground and made it through to the semifinals.
Participants in the third episode raised the bar even higher, with the superspaks coming prepared to tackle the questions given to them.
Most impressive was Faleye Oluwatoba who, in the Advanced Round, came atop the list of the top three participants to make it to the semifinals with 200 points. His fellow competitors held their own, but his aptitude in his delivery gave him an edge over them.
The fourth episode was capped with an intensity that was only demonstrated by Timi who, despite his impressive run in the Foundation Round and Take a Turn, couldn’t make it to the semifinals.
The goal of the show is echoed in the responses of the participants to questions asked by the moderator Hero Daniels – simply referred to as Hero by the competitors – regarding their ambition and their drive. The use of science to tackle issues facing the African continent and the use of Africans, especially young Africans, cannot be overstated.
While a lot has changed with the current InterswitchSPAK TV show when compared with the previous edition, it is instructive to note that the restrictions occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic have not constrained Interswitch and JustMedia, the producers of the show- in any way. This reaffirms Interswitch’s commitment to ensuring the development of Africa’s future problem solvers.
Success at the InterswitchSPAK competition is based on the SPAK acronym, Speed, Precision, Accuracy and Knowledge. The battle continues, as we look forward to seeing more Superspaks.
To watch the program, tune in to DSTV Africa Magic Family Channel 154 every Saturday by 6:30 pm, and 5.00pm on Sundays on the AIT Network.