Over 1,000 students from about 100 city schools were busy reading on Wednesday. And they had to read fast. They were participating in the Speed Reading Competition organised as part of The Hindu’s Newspaper In Education (NIE) initiatives.

Organised in association with Only Success, a company involved in training, the event gave students of Classes VI to VIII an opportunity to learn to read fast and grasp key words, using certain techniques.

Participants were given a series of exercises to test their ability to read fast.

The exercises had rows and columns of numbers and words and students were asked to identify and circle specific numbers or words. Students who were able to do this in the shortest time were awarded prizes.

Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony, V. Vasanthi Devi, educationist and former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, said children ought to have a childhood filled with joy.

“With no time or opportunity to play or develop other capabilities, many children are losing their childhood,” she said.

Drawing attention to the stress undergone by many school-going students due to competition, she said it was important that children be allowed to learn without pressure.

Commending The Hindu for “bringing hundreds of children together” and giving them an opportunity to share the same space, she suggested that in addition to skill-based events, programmes to sensitise children to the realities of the larger world also be considered.

“For instance, we could make children read Mr. Sainath’s [Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu] pieces and ask them to respond. Some of them may even be taken to these places to get an idea of real India,” she added.

Vidyashankar, founder and CEO, Only Success, said he was happy to be associated with The Hindu for the event.

Ragavee Kalaiyarasu of St. John’s International Residential School, P. Nandhini of Sri Natesan Vidyalaya Matriculation School and Anusha Sharan of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan, K.K.Nagar, won the top three prizes that included cash awards, scholarships for training programmes at Only Success and certificates.

Adyar Grand Sweets and Snacks was the snacks partner, Sabols, the water partner and Anna Adarsh College for Women, the venue partner.