Linguistik online




Discourse Acts in Antenatal Clinic Literacy Classroom in South-Western Nigeria

'Rotimi Taiwo (Ile-Ife)/'Foluke Salami (Ile-Ife)



This study examines the organization of discourse in antenatal classrooms in south-western Nigeria. Antenatal literacy classrooms are classes organized in hospitals and health centres for pregnant women to intimate them with the necessary health information needed in pregnancy. The data for this study were randomly selected from series of data recorded during some antenatal classes in some selected hospitals in Ile-Ife and its environs, all in south-western Nigeria. The data consist of tape recordings of the classroom sessions and observational notes. The study reveals that three categories of discourse act were most prominent in the data - informative, elicitation and directive. This shows that the antenatal educators were more active in the classes than the students. They maximized the use of their power in discourse, which gives them the [+ HIGHER] role. They therefore had the privilege to talk while the mothers listened. This places the pregnant women at the disadvantage of being passive learners, who cannot see the knowledge being passed across beyond the context of the class. Despite that they have access to information, they are not adequately empowered to influence the society with what they are being exposed to. Their perception of their role in the discourse was that of listeners. The findings have significant implications for health literacy programmes in Nigeria. It clearly shows that health literacy programmes, as we have observed in antenatal classrooms exist only as an aspect of functional health literacy - the aspect that recognizes that pregnant women need to know about their health by listening to experts. This makes the practice, as it is essentially transactional. The study concludes that for antenatal classrooms to achieve their goal of health security of pregnant women and their foetus, they have to be more interactive. There must be a departure from the lecture method used now to a method that actually involves the mothers.

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