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Tales Of An NSS Teacher: E k3 Mi Ni?

Tales of An NSS Teacher

During my early days as an NSS teacher, ‘Ek3 mi ni’ was one popular phrase I heard every time.   Apparently, my pupils could not understand some of the things I said or words I used.

I would see one whisper to the other while I taught. With a troubled look, raised eye brows and all. “Ei, what at all could be causing such reactions?” I thought. Well, I gathered the little Ga I know (which is closer to their language) to land a meaning.

The phrase simply means ‘what did he/she say?’ The attitude with which they said ‘E k3 mi ni’ became quite rude. They even giggled at some instances. So in the end, I could not tell whether they were making a mockery of me or sharing genuine concerns.

It is not as though I was using ‘big words’. I was in the basic school so I knew better than use vocabularies they could make no meaning of. Hence I spoke simply and used a lot of gestures. Yet, I could hear e k3 mi ni and see the attitude that came with it. It got quite infuriating. I mean not even ‘madam k3 mini?’ (What did madam say?)

Related: Secondary School Diaries: A Day I Will Never Forget

 

WHEN YOU GO TO ROME…

I later found out that their behaviour was justifiable. I heard they were usually taught with a blend of English and their local language (Dangme). And here was this new teacher (me) who presented lessons with an unfamiliar style. Straight English; so it was their own way of expressing their surprise.  And it was not my fault.

NSS person without a background in Education di3 the most I expected was to assist a class teacher; mark exercises, the register, you know such complementary duties. Little did I know the district where I had been posted to was on the RED when it comes to understaffed schools.

Tales of An NSS Teacher

And so for almost two months – meaning more than half of the term, I was alone with the pupils. The teacher for that class had gone on retirement the previous term. My head teacher was waiting for new teacher postings. After a little orientation on lesson notes writing, she gave me a time table. I was then thrown into one of the lower primary classes with these words- ‘We are understaffed, you would have to manage the class until we get more teachers’.

End of discussion.

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NSS TEACHER MUSINGS

The Ghana Education Service (GES) has it that lower primary be taught with English and the language of the locality. So teachers at this level blend the English language and the local language in teaching.

But I have realised that the pupils have become too comfortable with that. I mean it is the only language you hear them speak on the compound and in class. They have not been challenged to speak the English language so it has remained so. I have even observed on certain occasions where junior high pupils were being taught in the local language. From a teacher’s point of view, I guess the idea is ‘it will not hurt much if a pint of the local language here and a dash there made them understand the lesson better.’  And it is true. I cannot agree less. The temptation to teach in this manner is so high. Take it from me- an NSS teacher of two terms experience. Hehe.

However, I ask myself.  When will they ever get over that comfort zone and learn to understand lessons in English only? B.E.C.E questions do not appear in local languages you know. And if these junior high pupils have no alternative language, they would be forced to understand in English only. Anaa?

Related: Ghanaian Throwbacks: The Good Old Days

 Tales of An NSS Teacher

 

BECE 2018… E K3 MI NI

Today, during break time, my best part of the school day. I was slumped in my chair, as usual, trying to catch some rest with the little time on my hands. When the children are out I do not joke with the freedom at all. I covet every passing second of their absence. Hmm if you were in my shoes! (Me singing you will understand it better by and by). Oh, Charlie to think that being adult now has not changed that feeling about break times. Hahahaha!

But my thoughts were actually with the final years-the candidates.

They have studied, they have been prepared for this BIG examination. Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

Yet I was still concerned with how they will fully understand every question. What if that major question is from that part of the lesson that was rendered in their local language for better understanding, back in the classroom? Their minds can play games with them you know. That feeling when you are sure of the thing one minute, and unsure the next. All because you lack confidence by reason of little use.

‘Call it ‘E k3 mi ni?’ by extension.’

The reality then is that E k3 mi ni is just one version of this communication issue. I bet in many schools, Ghana- wide, especially in deprived districts the other versions are loud and clear;

‘ose d3n’ , ‘ose aadzi’, ‘mey kacha’ ‘3b3 nuka’, ‘ay3 ti b3’, ‘wula ka y3li’; and boy, the list goes on and on.

Have you seen your version? Then my work here is done.

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COMMUNICATE; BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE!

I tried to get the ‘E k3 mi ni’ situation under control though. How for do?

First, I decreed that no one whispers anything to another while I taught. All such questions should be directed at me. I involved them in the teaching. Mostly, I would ask them to state some English words in their language. These were usually the keywords in the lesson. That way, everyone could figure out whatever was under discussion; besides, there were illustrations in their textbooks.

Sometimes, I even resorted to employing some of them to translate whole sentences in their language. The interpreters were overjoyed to play the role. They will grin from ear to ear, carefully rise to their feet, to make sure they got everyone’s attention and then begin-‘ek3’ …(she says). Their impression was not lost on the rest of their mates. They cheered them on with, you know, class vibes. I managed to learn a few vocabularies in the local language too. Usually, I would spice up my presentations with a word or two, and you should see the beam hit their faces! I had their attention fast. The language barrier became shaky; ‘E k3 mi ni’ was fast disappearing from the class. Go me!!!

I may not have gone to training college but hey, I read Communications! (wink wink)

Related: Open Letter to the Minister of Education

 #NSS2018 #NSPinsideInsideShaiOsudokuDistrict #ACNSPstellsnotales

 

Story By Margaret Blankson

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Margaret Blankson

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