Letter writing, development of writing skills - ‘agorↄ ne fam’

BY: Emmanuel Owusu Yaw
Picture credit: Shutterstock
Picture credit: Shutterstock

Permit me, (and I do not intend to mislead you) to consider letter writing especially among pupils and students as “a hand written mode of communication clothed with fun, calligraphy, idioms and good grammar as an expression to impress the end user (recipient)”.

Obviously, letter writing has become a lost art in Ghana schools, students turning to become “untrained stenographers”, who unintentionally express themselves in shorthand, even in situations where they are expected to avoid this.

For many years, Chief Examiners of English Language and other written subjects have had the unfortunate cause to call out the growing incidence of students who fail to express themselves well, not least, because of tendencies to forget themselves and use coded language (as it were) and “sinful” contractions in their writings, thereby failing dismally.

They have, therefore, called on students to essay to develop their writing skills to ensure better performance.

Many teachers in Ghana believe that if students and pupils are encouraged and spurred on to take letter writing among themselves seriously, as it used to be, it would translate into good writing skills and great would be the benefits to them and the economy.

They cite the fact that in letter writing the student-writer is obsessed to impress the recipient, especially if it is intended for the opposite sex and, therefore, time is taken to write very well.

They further state that on many occasions the writer refers the exercise to colleague students for proofreading in order to ensure it is perfected and ready to be dispatched.

Post office

Even though the epistolary exercises have lost steam, the Post Office, which has over the years been the reliable acceptance and delivery agency of students’ letters, has not only remained steady, but it has also well adjusted itself to the “fast environment” in which it finds itself to render efficient and speedy services, should students rediscover the lost art and have recourse to it.

Good writing skills are a great advantage and impress employers. The Presbyterian Moderator, Rev. Professor Obiri Yeboah Mantey, was once reported as saying that he had adopted the “Agor) ne fam” mantra in order to subject prospective job applicants to prove their quality by expressing themselves in writing for employment.

He is among the lot who believe that writing reflects on the capability of the job applicant and it is expedient to find suitable employees who would not disappoint in the work in the long haul.

There is a growing cry by many disappointed job owners that though young job seekers produce good certificates for employment, they disappointingly fail to shine when they are employed.

In view of this, “Agor) ne fam,” to wit “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, is growing in popularity as the first port of call by employers.

It is for this reason that the clarion call comes to the student to write and write and write.

Head, Compliance and Enforcement of ’ Ghana Post Office’, Accra.