In October, I had the privilege to visit the Kom Multilingual Education Project, where I was amazed at the level of engagement from students and teachers. A few scenes from the school are featured in a video that I posted several weeks ago; please let me know if you are interested in the link to it. Today I received this short story from a friend. It was written by Godfrey Kain, a Cameroonian who designed many of the materials that the school is using to teach students to read in Kom and then in English.
A Chance Encounter
This past July I went to Fundong (a market town) to take care of some project business. While there I visited some shops looking for items I needed for the house. Standing next to a book store, I was suddenly surprised by a young child who came up to greet me. I didn’t recognize the boy so asked, “Are you going to school?”
“Yes, I am,” said Sederick. "I am attending the government school in Mboh (which teaches the kids using the Kom language)."
“What grade are you in?” I asked.
“I just finished grade 3,” said Sederick.
“Can you read?” I asked.
“Yes, I can,” said Sederick.
I then asked, “In which language can you read?”
“I can read in both English and in Kom,” said Sederick.
“Do you also know how to write as well as read?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Sederick.
At that point I decided to test the kid. I bought a piece of chalk from the bookstore and wrote four sentences on the sidewalk, two in English and two in Kom. Sederick read all four sentences without hesitation. People walking by began to gather in a small crowd to see what was going on.
Then I gave the chalk to Sederick and asked him to write anything he wanted to on the sidewalk. Sederick proceeded to write two long sentences in Kom and two shorter sentences in English. The small crowd now watching stared in amazement and then began to clap.
Among those in the crowd was Sederick’s mother. As the crowd began to disperse, she came up and greeted me amazed that this simple demonstration had produced such applause for her young son. Her eyes brimmed with tears of joy at this public acknowledgment.