Published: April 27th 2009April 27th 2009
Hey everybody. I know some of you have been busy with family birthdays, but I’ve been taking it easy and don’t have too much to write about. This past week, the school served as a testing site for the BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination). The BECE is the standardized test that form 3 JHS students take to determine which school they will be placed at for SHS. The BECE for JHS is like the WASSCE for SHS in that it is created and marked by WAEC (West African Examinations Council). I hope you understood all those acronyms. Anyway, many of the teachers from my school were chosen to be invigilators for the BECE. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I am not allowed to be an invigilator for any WAEC exams. Although, I did take the opportunity to observe how the exams were administered. From what the teachers have told me, cheating is quite rampant when it comes to the BECE. Many of the students that take the exam go to private schools, and the teachers want the students to score well so the school will build its reputation, even if it means cheating. In one of the exams, an invigilator found a boy sitting on an entire textbook for the subject the exam was on. The BECE lasted 5 days from Monday to Friday, and the students were tested on 2 subjects per day. Each subject was divided into 2 sections, with one being objective questions and the other being theory questions. The exam papers were dealt with in a very formal and official manner. The test questions were all sealed in an envelope and had to be opened in the presence of all the invigilators. At the end of the exam, the answers papers were collected and sealed in a similar, classified envelope, and locked in a duffle bag to be transported to Accra.
Today there was a special ceremony in Kumasi to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Asante King’s reign. I didn’t personally go to the event, but I watched some of it on the television. All the chiefs in the Asante Kingdom gathered at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, and everyone was wearing Kente cloth. Every chief had an entourage and had a large decorative umbrella to shade him from the sun. The President of Ghana, Atta Mills, as well as the former President, Jerry Rawlings, were at the event. There is still a lot I don’t know about the different tribes of Ghana and the roles they play, but I do know the Asante King is an extremely important man. I don’t remember how to spell the Asante King’s name and I don’t want to butcher it, so I’ll look it up and get back to you next time.
It is time for an update on my experience with mangos. Since I wrote last, I am happy to say that I have enjoyed plenty of mangos. The best news is that I have found a fairly successful way of eating the mango. It turns out that the mango is similar to the peach, in that some people eat the skin and some people don’t. Unlike the peach, the mango has a smooth skin without fuzz. I have found that eating the mango skin is the best way to enjoy all the juicy wonderfulness that’s in the mango. I have also come to accept the fact that you are going to get messy eating a mango so just embrace it and enjoy. There is usually a bowl of water somewhere close by to wash your hand and face anyway. I have also found it useful to carry a pack dental floss wherever I go because you never know when you are going to eat a mango and the fibers always get caught in your teeth. I’ve also decided that the grafted mangos aren’t worth the money when you can get a bag full of local mango for the same price. I think it is fair to say, that mango season is by far my favorite season in Ghana.
I have a little update on the STARS conference. This last week, I found out that I am going to be a Group Leader during the STARS conference. I will basically be like a camp councilor for the week, and I’ll be responsible for a group of 10 students at the conference. I’m really excited to be able to experience the conference first hand since I’m also helping with a lot of the planning and behind-the-scenes work that make STARS possible.
One last note is that I have finished calculating final grades for all my form 1 students and assigning the appropriate letter grade. The school uses the same letter grading format as the WASSCE, and it is a little different than the grading in the States. From highest to lowest, the grades go as follows: A1, B2, B3, C4, C5, C6, D7, E8, F9. The percentage breakdown for the letter grades go accordingly: 100-80, 79-70, 69-65, 64-60, 59-55, 54-50, 49-45, 44-40, 39-0. Unfortunately, the terminal report books for the form 1 classes haven’t been in the staff room like they are supposed to be, so I haven’t written them down yet. Hopefully I get that done this week considering that term 3 starts next week. That’s all for now. Later.