Holidays started early for many students, counting the long Easter holiday.This is the beginning of the first term holiday.
Many believe that holidays are meant to be for relaxation, and a break from the usual book-and-pen schedule.
However, educationists believe that both environments are essential for the natural development of learners.
Learning the history of the country
According to Dr Opiyo Andala, the dean of School of Education at Mount Kenya University,says that April being the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi commemoration month, holidays should offer an opportunity for youngsters to be educated more on theevil that befell the country 24 years ago, and help them work towards making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.
“I think while at home, children should be well-informed about their past, to promote unity through social interaction,” he says.
He says that with this, knowledge, whether at school or home, is actively and collaboratively constructed, leading to continuous interactions with peers, community scholars and leaders within the community.
Opiyo says that effective learning about the Genocidewill be effective through interactive processes like group or parental discussions and genuine knowledge sharing.
Diana Nawatti, a teacher at Mother Mary Complex School in Kibagabaga, says it should start with a planned timetable with children and parents.
She believes that a daily schedule that begins in the morning till noonand is consistent and respected by both parties will help students make themost out of the holiday.
“Holidays, especially this one in April when we commemorate, should be spent visiting relatives in rural areas so that they get to know their relatives,” she says.
She adds that by doing this, parentswill introduce their children to outdoor activities like farming.
She adds that by visiting relatives in the village, and involving kids in rural activities, the initiative to explain to children about the country’s history will avail.
Enock Nkulanga, the national director, African Children’s Mission, says that joining the community to commemorate the Genocide is important.
He says some learners don’t know exactly what happened in the country, and that it’s prudent for parents to take that role and teach their children about Rwanda’s history.
Nkulanga points out that parents should invest in their children’s learning. He says that it’s always good for parents to take interest in how their children learn, and understand the challenges they face.
“Parents should spend some quality time with their. For instance, a parent-child time out would be an unforgettable experience,” he says.
Additionally, Nkulanga says that it would be a good time for parents to take their children around Kigali and beyond, visiting places like the museum or Genocide memorials and other places that will build learners’ understanding of what happened.
Dr Opiyo says that the April holiday offers a unique opportunity to learn, starting with the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that starts on April 7.
He observes that some parentschoose to hire tutors rather than teach the children their history and cultural values themselves, something similar to a school environment.
“These children deserve attention both at school and at home, free them from typical‘studying’ and let them spend time with books for casual reading that will enlighten them as that will do them some good, it helps refresh the mind,” he says.
Dr Opiyo points out that forstudents who may not have the chance to hold discussions with their parents or peers for one reason or another; this is the time to read books as a hobby for language improvement.
He says that language policy was implemented in Rwanda in 2009 but it is still achallenge to most students, especially in rural areas. Reading English story books is one way of supporting the Language Transition Implementation Process introduced by the Rwandan government.
“Adjusting and developing a reading culture is ideal as well, reading should be for pleasure. There is always an adjustment period during one’s life. When children settle into a new routine, like reading story books and getting used to being around each other for storytelling, there is always language development and perfection,” he says.
Elizabeth Tona, a private tutor in Kigali,says she feels that the holiday is the time for all learners to adjust.
She says as the country gets ready for commemoration this month; no school or educational institution, ornoisy event will be in place.
“It should be flexible on the side of parents to do things with their children during this period. In case of any‘school activities’, the task should be to keep children busy with patriotic and educative literature,” she says.
To help get the most out of this holiday, Tona says that planning is in order. The list must be put into categories to suit their children.
“It is important to focus on what will make students go back to school refreshed and ready to learn some more,” says Opiyo.
Preparing for the next term
Alpha Marara, a parent and IT specialist at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, says that students in classes that are preparing for national exams should reflect on the past term, for instance, finding out what they did, what they didn’t do and the areas they need to improve.
“By doing this, it doesn’t mean that they are going to spend their entire holiday catching up with what they failed at school. It means that this will give them a clear picture on what to do when school resumes,”he says.
Marara adds that this planning should be with the help of parents/guardians or any person.
Parents share their views
Claudine Mukashemana, parent
I think encouraging our children to take part in community work, such as helping the needy or constructing houses for victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, is good. Children should take this time to form groups that will help the community.
Michel Habimana, Kigali resident
I believe this is the right time for parents and students to work together. By doing this, it will help instil students with the spirit of team-work, which can be stationed in all areas including school.
Geoffrey Kamasa, father of two
I think students should use this holiday to form groups and address peace and how to associate with people without creating enmity. For all this to be achieved, parents should be supportive.
Monica Kayitesi, teacher
Before closing, teachers should encourage students to adopt ways that will see them promote peace and unity. While at home, parentsshoulddo the sameas this will give students thedrive to do the right thing.