Improve Atem drama festival

Association for Teaching of English in Malawi (Atem) was formed to help teachers to understand approaches to English teaching and marking.

It updates teachers of English on changes in the curriculum so that students’ speaking and writing skills improve.

This improves communication in class and performance in national examinations.

In 2023, Atem resumed drama competition after taking a break for some years.

Although this was a colorful event, there is room for improvement.

First, Atem organises its drama contests like emergencies, which gives school little room for preparations. This contributes to poor performance of some schools.

The association must communicate on time so that schools have adequate time to practise and source materials needed for their performance.

While some schools already invested in drama and have nearly everything they need, others struggle to source props, constume, transport and other requirements because they are either new or financially constrained.

They need more time for casting, directing the play, practice and mobilising materials.

The past few months, Atem wrote schools to start preparing for the 2024 drama competition, but now it is quite on the future of the event.

Some participants are concerned that the Atem officials and judges give their favourite schools special treatment.
This is selective justice. It mostly favours schools with big names in the system and imperil newcomers.

At the comeback edition, some participants performed badly because some officials did not get basics right.

For instance, although Atem released a programme indicating when each school would perform, it was surprising that some schools gave excuses and were allowed to perform at their preferred time.

 As a result, this forced schools that had prepared to perform at their scheduled time to perform at a short notice and make silly goofs in panic mode.

Some of the contenders would have done better had they been allowed to perform according to plan.

The initial programme gave participants certainty about their performance time.

Yet, the schools that were supposed to perform first gave excuses so they could perfect their acts after watching how others prepared the stage and performances.

Besides, some schools were given more time to prepare the stage than others.

The casts forced to hurriedly set the stage started performing before getting fully prepared.

To call a spade a spade, Atem officials and judges rushed small schools with little stage experience. These intimidating antics unnerved first-timers at the big competition.

Atem must level the stage and make all schools feel comfortable to be part of the English drama contest.

Give equal treatment to all. Favouritism may force aggrieved schools to stop participating as did many in the past.

Atem must make rules clear in all regions and divisions before the competition begins.

The instructions should clearly guide all participating schools and participants on dos and don’ts and penalties for violations.

Such guidance is vital during rehearsals and performances.

It is Atem’s duty to even interpret the year’s overarching theme so that participating plays do not go off-track as was the case during divisional competition.

Atem must also consider putting in rules that will govern the participant’s discipline.

For instance, it should communicate to all matrons and patrons the penalties for schools that fail to perform on the time assigned.

No school should be above the rules.

The time for setting the stage should also be uniform to avoid what happened in 2023.

Atem must normalise holding the competition even at divisional level for students in ‘small schools’ to get used to the rules, stage fright and audience management.

This will also help other matrons and patrons learn from their colleagues and improve their schools’ performances.

Competition must favour all participating teams lest losers return to their schools feeling hard done.

Judges should have no favourites.  Selective justice is not justice at all.

The post Improve Atem drama festival first appeared on The Nation Online.

The post Improve Atem drama festival appeared first on The Nation Online.