(Step towards mass learners’ development)
It has been quoted for many years that majority of the students of Bangladesh are unwilling to learn English. Educational experts identify the cause behind this unwillingness – shyness, fear and unfavourable environment. Very few steps are taken to solve these problems. GOs and NGOs have started to train the teachers in English. They encouraged co-curricular activities – Debate, Quiz test etcetera. But these are especially for some focused groups not for the mass learners. The usual announcement for these kinds of activities is like – ‘Those who are interested to join in a debate competition submit your name to the concern office on or before….’
Ha! Those who are..!! So, what is about the mass learners!! Selucus! No concern yet is there. Seminars and symposiums are going on with the elites and focused ones ending with lip-smacking lunch and dinners. Published in medias and chatted over on these for hours keeping the mass in dark.
‘‘English Week’’ is a new initiative of Post-primary Basic and Continuing Education (PACE) program of BRAC to ensure mass learners’ involvement. The objectives of English Week are – to remove students’ shyness in speaking English, to enhance students’ skills in speaking and basic writing, to make students interested in English language based cultural activities not confronting with own culture, to promote a group of Students’ Trainers from the students, and to ease the burden of the teachers to manage large classes and teaching. The week was celebrated by the students of Kalkini Sayed Abul Hosain Academy, Kalkini, Madaripur, from January 16 to January 21, 2010 (Saturday to Thursday). The celebration by the students was spontaneous.
The week was divided into two phases. The first halve of the week was for the students of classes IX and X; and the second halve of the week was for the students of classes VI, VII and VIII. In the first halve of the week the students were shared on four contents – about self, about family, about school and about the history of Language Movement and Liberation war of Bangladesh. The students of classes IX and X received one day TOT (Training of Trainer) in the last day of the first halve. In that TOT course, they learnt the basics of facilitation. They practiced on forming pairs and groups with the participants. They learnt the techniques of involving participants actively in a class. Students learnt the norms of elicitation and monitoring. At the end of the TOT 100 Students’ Trainers (20 core trainers and 80 co-trainers) 20 ‘Performers’ (for a short play) were promoted from the students of classes IX and X. In the last halve of the week the Students’ Trainers conducted sessions with the students of classes VI, VII and VIII in 20 groups (each group remains 16 -18 students). It is noted that, the number of students of the school is 499 – in classes 9-10 there are 142 students (attendance - 139), and in classes 6-8 there are 357 students (attendance - 320).
Students showed their performance in all aspects. These rural students used the week speaking in English always. Even they showed their creativity making flip-boards with bamboo. The Students’ Trainers used these flip-boardsf or conducting sessions with their fellow learners of classes VI to VIII.They made 20 flip-boards for the very 20 groups.
It is noted that without the cooperation of the Chair, the Headmaster and the teachers of that school the week would not have been launched. If all the SMC chairs of Bangladesh could be like Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, all the Headmasters could be like Mr. Hemayet Hosen, all the English teachers could be like Md. Hemayet Hossain and Mr. Tarun Kumar; we would get a different country. We, the seven Teachers’ Trainers from brac – PACE, were amazed watching the cooperative, collaborative and learning friendly environment of the school.
The students are enthusiastic enough. Their English teacher Md. Hemayet and Mr. Tarun Kumar made them the follower of Learning Toolkits (4R & 3I) – Readiness, Reflective, Resourceful and Resilient; Imaginative, Intuition, and Intelligence. They are always ready to do anything for their learning. When their English Teachers asked them to contribute to the expenditure for the week, they stepped forward willingly and managed TK. 4500 within three days and school authority managed the rest of the expenditure. When we told them that they needed black costumes for the short play, they made and collected these outlets within two days. At the end of the week, when we asked the Students’ Trainers how they may continue their learning of English, they spontaneously replied to arrange a review day in a month.
If this week could be celebrated by the entire primary, junior and secondary schools of Bangladesh, mass learners’ involvement and development could be promoted. I would like to encourage all the educational institutes to allocate working week for this ‘English Week’ to enhance learners’ skills in English language. Materials (Handout and Trainers’ Note) are prepared by English Team of brac – PACE. The concerned of education institutes may adapt the materials from brac-PACE or may create their own to meet the demand of their learners.
Teachers’ Trainer, English Team, brac – PACE
Cell phone: 01741-206199