MUSCAT: Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest (TOOISQC) is a knowledge movement rather than just a quiz, according to Oman’s favourite quizmaster Giri ‘Pickbrain’ Balasubramaniam. In this exclusive interview Giri ‘Pickbrain’ Balasubramaniam, who will be here to conduct the mega prelims (April 27) and finals (April 29) of the TOOISQC, says students are increasingly connecting themselves to Times of Oman digitally to keep themselves updated. For the first time, Times of Oman’s inter school quiz has been outsourced and will be organised by Eventful/Doc, a leading event management company.
How has the Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest (TOOISQC) grown over the years? How would you measure the success of this quiz?
It is really a tribute to the founder chairman Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali and his vision to start this quiz for schoolchildren. It has fostered a culture among schools across Oman for quizzing. I am also told several schools now have quiz clubs which is wonderful to note. The popularity of the quiz has certainly been very high and would only grow given the participation increase we see each year.
What are the significant changes you have noticed in the terms of the quality of students’ participation and performance?
The children are definitely far more informed these days as compared to a decade ago. If you take a quiz like this, students are also connected to Times of Oman digitally and therefore keep updating themselves. The strategies played by the teams are also getting better each year, and all schools do well, so anyone can win the quiz on a given day.
What do you consider the most significant accomplishment of Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest?
The manner in which it has ignited the curiosity of children across Oman and slowly become a knowledge movement rather than just a quiz. What is also noteworthy is the junior quiz has become a wonderful 'start-up' platform for quizzing among the younger children.
What roles have the school authorities and teachers played in ensuring the success of the quiz?
The school and teacher are also the principle motivators for a programme such as this. If they provide or nudge their children to just take part once, that is enough for the child to get hooked on for a long time. Schools have also ensured especially at the school level of the quiz, that it gets all the support they can give to ensure several kids get a chance to take part.
How can parents inculcate an interest in quizzing among their children?
Parents can make or break the interest for an activity like this. If they encourage their kids to quiz and support them with some books etc, it can really spark a reading habit in children. Once that happens there is no stopping. They can also encourage children to take part just to get a feel of the event and then get them to prepare from the next year if they are new to the quiz or very young.
Over the years, the way news and information is consumed has changed and is continuing to change? As head of Greycaps, Asia’s largest onstage quizzing and knowledge services company. What are your thoughts on this?
This is certainly a new age of information consumption that we live in. Everything is real time and truly global in scale, which is what makes it a 'big data' planet. Information management is like our digestive system, we have a lot of information options to choose from, we consume what we want in the quantity that we want, draw knowledge from it and let go of the rest. In the process sports like quizzing become effective tools to help improve oneself.
What advice would you give participating students in the above context?
The era is of information management. We need to find our own tools to help us master that. Quizzing is a fun way to learn new things that enable us to contribute better in an information era.
What inspires your team - when researching and preparing for the Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest?
The key to research is to craft questions that can be cracked. The idea is never to use the forum for a quizmaster to display his or her intellect. We usually target that about 70 per cent or more of the questions should get cracked. The motivation sure comes from how the teams stump us with answers to questions that we think would get past them when we research them. That is truly humbling.
What is your favourite part of the Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest?
The audience participation is what brings the quiz to life. The passion with which they all support their respective schools is wonderful to witness and is something we look forward to each year.
Are you planning changes in format, style for the prelims or mega-prelims or finals of the Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest?
Well, life is a journey full of surprises. So is the Times of Oman Inter School Quiz!