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18.11.2016 Feature Article

A letter To G.E.S And Lawrence Darmani.

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Dear Sirs,
The cock has not yet crowed, and so before I wet the floor with tears, it's only fair I render a thick apology for knocking on your door with a hard copy of "The Cockrow", a literary book approved by Ghana Education Service to be used for the teaching and learning of Junior High School literature in Ghana. Sleeping motionlessly in the heart of the book is a paper, flooded with 170 questions, not from Dr. Bawumia to our Vice President, Amissah Arthur, but from a concerned teacher who has used The Cockrow for close to three years now. Let it be made clear that this article is not intended to unleash any criticism on Mr. Darmani.

He has been tagged here because he, together with John A. Sackey, compiled the book in question and I'm pretty sure he will have a fair understanding of the issues at hand. I'm, myself, one of the biggest fans of Mr. Darmani, with his poem, 'Scribbler's Dream', topping my list of favourite poems. I also have no beef with "The Cockrow" per se. Its content is apt and I have no doubt the book will ultimately live up to literature's core mandate of educating, informing and entertaining. That notwithstanding, I think there are a few puzzles that need to be unlocked here.

Since the introduction of the book in 2013, the G.E.S has organised quite a handsome number of workshops on it for English Language teachers, and on each occasion, teachers are resourced and charged to adequately prepare their children for the year's B.E.C.E, as the eight questions on literature will come from the book. Whether or not this is misinformation, teachers prepare their candidates each year using this book, only to be informed just a few weeks to the final examination that there will be no questions on it. This has continued for some years now and it's tempting some of us to believe this is a mere business strategy aimed at getting the books sold in large quantities to schools. We have again, been assured to expect questions on the book in the 2017 B.E.C.E but whether or not another excuse won't be given is another story on its own.

What's more disheartening is the manner some directorates of the Ghana Education Service are chancing on the 'Christmas' to 'chew' helpless chicken. Just within a spate of eleven months, the Sekondi Takoradi Metro Directorate of the Ghana Education Service has organised two of such workshops for private school teachers, besides the earlier two separate workshops organised by Mr. Darmani himself and the Ghana National Association of Private Schools respectively. The worrying part of the situation is not the participation fee of thirty Ghana cedis or more paid on each occasion, it has to do with how teachers, under the guns of their proprietors, have to sacrifice lessons or periods meant for the other aspects of the English Language in the name of a two-day literature workshop which only offers a repetition of the same old and tired knowledge and method of approaching the subject.

While we make conscious efforts at selling literature to our children, let us not forget there are other equally-important aspects of the English Language that need serious attention. The English Language paper is not comprised of only metaphor, simile, alliteration and other figures of speech which dominate our discussions at the workshops. Judging from the faces and body language of teachers who attended the just-ended two-day workshop at the Teachers' Resources Centre in Sekondi-Takoradi , it's crystal -clear most of us are not interested in these incessant workshops again, except the few teachers who have fallen deeply for the fried rice and chicken thighs served for lunch.

For teachers to attend a workshop on the same book over and over again is sickening and until there is repacking somewhere, our interest will never be restored. If Ghana Education Service and Mr. Darmani himself have copies of The Cockrow, they should read the last two lines of "Desert Rivers" and know that, the fact that they cannot see our tears does not mean we do not cry.

Till I hear favourably from G.E.S and Mr. Darmani, this has been yours truly..........

Jet Alan.

Jet Alan
Jet Alan, © 2016

The author has 22 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JetAlan

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