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Frafra teachers kick against Dagbani

2009-05-23 21:28:01
This article has been read 767 times.

Attempts by the Ghana Education Service (GES) in the Upper East Region to adapt the Dagomba language, Dagbani, for pupils in the Junior High schools have received protestations from teachers and the people of the region.

In the just-ended Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), candidates in six out of two municipalities and four districts did not sit for any Ghanaian language. The reason was that the Frafra speaking language, Gurene, was not examinable by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

In his attempts to register one out of the eleven examinable Ghanaian languages for candidates of the BECE in the region for the six district/municipal assemblies, the Upper East Regional Director of Education, Mr. Fabian Belied, and some of his subordinates went for Dagbani.

A circular released by the Regional Director stated: "Until the Gurene language is developed with sufficient teaching and learning materials, districts in the region, by consensus, will be examined at the BECE in the following languages;" Kassim for Kassena-Nankana East, Kassena-Nankana West and Builsa districts, while Bolgatanga Municipality, Bawku Municipality, Bawku West District, Talensi-Nabdam and Garu-Tempane districts will do Dagbani.

During a meeting with the Gurene teachers and headteachers of the Junior High schools to deliberate on the matter, the Director's decision was met with vehement disapproval.

Though Mr. Fabian based his decision on the fact that Gurene was not developed, thus, lacked teaching and learning materials, and was not also part of the eleven examinable Ghanaian languages, some teachers claimed some materials had already developed and could be used in the interim, while more, including the syllabi, were also developed to facilitate teaching and learning of the language.

For those who suggested that until Gurene was developed no any other Ghanaian language should be imposed on the Frafra speaking areas, the Director said it was compulsory to register one of the eleven examinable Ghanaian languages.

According to him, it was against this background that some of the schools registered some languages, but later asked the WAEC not to print question papers for them, because their candidates could not write.

Mr. Fabian said it was this practice that the GES kicked against. As a result, Dagbani was registered for the just-ended BECE, for schools in the Bolgatanga Municipality, Bawku Municipality, Bawku West District, Talensi-Nabdam and Garu-Tempane districts, but no candidate sat for the paper.

Questioned by Upper East File later on why the GES did not adapt Kassim which was spoken in the Navrongo areas, the Director claimed Kassim did not relate to Gurene, hence it would be extremely difficult for students in other parts of the region to learn, understand and write it.

Mr. Fabian explained that registering Dagbani could also mean that parents who would want their children to write the language, could notify the schools and arrangements be made to supply them with question papers during the examinations.

However, his worry was that there would be no continuous assessment if the language was not taught.

He attributed the problem to the numerous languages and dialects in the region, noting that schools in the Bawku, Zebilla and Garu areas, would also prefer to do Kusal, (Kussasi speaking language) rather than Gurene.

Teachers and sections of the public said it did not make sense to teach Dagbani in Frafra dominated areas like Bolgatanga, Bongo, Tongo and Nabdam. The teachers said teaching one's language meant teaching one's culture, hence a Frafra school cannot teach Dagbani at the expense of their mother tongue.

According to the teachers, they themselves could not read or write Dagbani, and therefore wondered how they were going to teach their pupils a language they did not understand.

One of them said: "You want to frustrate our children, but we will not allow you to do that."

Opinions sought by this paper from the public, indicated clearly that the people were absolutely against the idea.

Meanwhile, the local branch Chairman of the Bolgatanga, Nabdam, Bongo and Tongo Association (BONABOTO), Didacus Afegra, said his outfit had so far spent GH¢10,000 working on developing the language so that it could be examinable by the WAEC.

"So, if you are a parent, and have your ward in the Bolgatanga Municipality, Bawku Municipality, Bawku West District, Talensi-Nabdam or Garu-Tempane districts, note that that ward will either write Dagbani as a Ghanaian language, or will not write any Ghanaian language at all.

"This will continue until such a time that the Gurene language will be developed with sufficient teaching and learning materials."


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