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Battle of the Brain Brats

45 schools, 210 students, a panel of guests and anticipating parents - all holding their breaths to hear the names. The names of their next leaders. The names of the Brain Brats.

Brain Brats is a joint initiative of The Daily Star and Champs21 (by Team Creative) to provide a platform for the "champs" of the 21st century to showcase their wit and stealth in the field of learning. After the announcement of Brain Brats, teachers in every school spread the word that a Brain Brat was a must-have in their respective schools.

21 days of online battle through champs21.com, where students were recognised by usernames and schools, a lot of learning took place mainly in mathematics, science and general knowledge. Each class's best scorers from each school then had to take a written test organised by the schools at their respective premises and two students from each class were recognised as the class champions to take part in the Grand Finale.

The Grand Finale was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on Saturday, the 12th of March. The class champions from Classes III-IX had to arrive an hour before their respective exams. The first exam, for classes III and IV began at 2.00 pm and by one, young geniuses with faces full of determination had begun to fill up the third floor.

The examination format was similar to that of the online phase. Each student had to sit down in front of individual laptops and answer 45 questions. There were 10 questions from math and science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology combined) and 25 more from General Knowledge.

The last exam, which was for Classes IX and X, finished at 5 pm and students had to go through the tension of another hour of waiting. The awards ceremony took place at 6 pm.

The ceremony started with speeches by the eminent personalities present. They included Minister for Science and ICT Yeafesh Osman. Editor and Publisher of the Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, Chief Executive Officer and the man behind Champs21 Russel Ahmed and the chief guest energy advisor to the prime minister Dr Tawfiq Elahi.

Mr Ahmed proudly announced much to everybody's amazement that Champs21 had 10,000 registered learners, while Dr Elahi mentioned how the previous day had been a win for the cricket, while this day had been a win for education.

After the speeches, came the moment of truth. There were 21 awards to be presented - three winners from the seven classes (IX and X had been combined). The second runner-ups were awarded digital cameras and the Brain Brats crests. The first runner-ups were presented Asus notebooks and Brain Brats crests, while the Champions of each class won the opportunity to take a study tour, along with their mothers, to Kuala Lampur.

Lots of congratulations, photographs and Close-up smiles followed. There was a cultural show, which featured a dance and a live performance by renowned band Shunno. Next came dinner and curtains fell on the Grand Finale.

Some students had prizes, others didn't. However, everyone had gone into the Grand Finale and got the learning opportunity of a lifetime. Everyone had come out a Brain Brat.

By Padya Paramita

No, Not Here

Once upon a time long, long ago, cricket was born. A sport to unite East and West, master and slave, people of all colours and cultures. Somewhere along the line, things went askew. Cricket became associated with racism and all its ugliness. But is that really the case?

The sport traces its beginnings back to Victorian England, when colonial masters introduced cricket to their territories as a way to bridge the divide between the cultures. Cricket was taken on wholeheartedly and today it is something that unites the entire world in the celebration of the sport. True, cricket was started in the subcontinent within the context of colonialism. Much of the racist arguments against cricket arise out of its colonial past. But, like the sport, the values associated with cricket have also changed to meet the needs of a globalised audience. If cricket itself was racist, as some wrongfully claim it to be, it would have never been this popular in the subcontinent. The masses would have never accepted something that oppressed them, much less make it their own. If cricket was actually meant to discriminate between the races, it wouldn't have been introduced to the colonies in the first place - it would have been played exclusively in England by the 'elite' class. Clearly, this is not the case.

The spirit of cricket is such that it transcended the boundaries within which it was created - both geographical and cultural. Today, cricket is as much Sri Lankan as it is English.

Racism exists in all sports, cricket included. But the extent to which it unites is much greater than the minor fault lines it occasionally creates. Racial tensions aren't exclusive to cricket. Italian footballer Mario Balotelli of Ghanaian origin talks of facing racism while playing. A famous racist chant at football stadiums is “There are no black Italians”. It is inevitable that players at the highest level of the game will feel the pressure of performing - not that it excuses inappropriate behaviour. But it is certainly a step towards understanding where such allegations stem from.

Racism exists in cricket, but that doesn't make it a racist sport. There are racist people all over the world. So it is obvious that some of them would be into cricket as well. There is nothing in the game itself that encourages racism. It is individuals that come to the game with their historical baggage and personal ideologies. In most cases, they are forgotten, or at least put aside, when the players take to the crease. And when they do not, the Anti-Racism Code is always there to take care of it. One of the strongest in world sport, it covers everyone from players to umpires to even spectators. It just goes to show how cricket can break all boundaries, no matter how strong they are.

And if you still need convincing, just have a look at the England cricket team today. The once 'elite' masters of the game now boast what is the most ethnically diverse team in world cricket. Dimitri Mascarenhas, Ravi Bopara, Ajmal Shahzad are all players who play for England despite being of non-English origin. Black, white and anything in between. Cricket doesn't discriminate. As long as you can smash that full toss, you're in the game. So, howzzat?

Sources: www.foxsports.com.au, www.rediff.com, www.newhistory.ac.uk
By TheAlien4mEarth



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