The day was hot. Hotter than a mere use of the word hot can convey. At 38 degrees centigrade I wondered to myself, not for the first time, if teaching these young people in the midday heat was a sensible undertaking. We arrived in the library. There were 14 students sitting patiently waiting. We had 10 test scripts. Despite my rusty math even I knew this would cause problems. The printer didn’t work. After a 20 minute intermission (can it be an intermission if you haven’t yet started?) the teacher trainee returned and barked a few Arakanese words at his friend. Twenty minutes later they returned with the hard-won scripts. They had had to run the generator, use the photocopier and battle the toner, which had won if my trainee’s hands and fingers were anything to judge by.
The students sat the test in sweaty silence. We weren’t able to split them as much as I would have liked. The room is small with only 4 trestle tables taking up the bulk of the floor space. The number of students is a little variable nowadays; we split the group into two and some pupils enjoy a cross over between high and low levels when they feel like it if the wind is blowing in the right direction. They finished within an hour or so. After completion we allowed them to leave until we had the end stragglers finishing up. The test was all in English with translation from my local teacher where necessary. I always try to keep the instructions as simple as possible in tests as in lessons. I am happy to paraphrase instructions for my students; I am not happy to provide content help on the test.
They did better than I was expecting, which I am very thankful for. I think that they did manage to retain some of the information. Upsettingly, the areas where they all lost the most points were on the “S” endings. No real surprise, but certainly a disappointment. I also tested the head monk and our other trainee; both of whom did significantly better than the group of teachers. We shall wait and see how the grade 9 pupils do on the same test.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer