THE time of the year when primary and secondary school students sit for their end of term examinations has arrived. By July 20th, they should be home for their holidays. Examinations continue to be very crucial to the academic setup of our country almost at the expense of anything else.
From one perspective they represent a summarised system of assessment that requires reproduction of what was taught in a space of a few hours. The other problem is how examination results continue to be used as the only criteria for admission into a school.
I was irked by an article in The Sunday Times paper titled, “Why Lycée de Kigali has declined in sports” that sought to explain why one of Kigali’s biggest schools had lost its sports glory. In the story, the school’s sports master, Wakilongo Essombo pointed out that things are not the same anymore. “Back then, the school used to recruit some students on sports tickets, but that is not the case now. The important factor is academics,” he told the paper.
That statement by the games teacher clearly points to a cancer that is eating our school system. This cancer has also received a major boost by the media that is known to splash nice feature stories of students who excel in national exams but say nothing about those with talents outside academics.
Of course it is a good thing for one to excel academically while in school, almost everyone in school uniform wishes for this, the whole time they are in school. But not everyone can be academically endowed.
I really think that schools are supposed to provide a holistic education and having good grades to me is not a holistic yardstick anyway. If you look closely, a school is actually a second home to the youth and so it should be able to cater for their differences in talent as well.
That said, I find it unfair for a school to strictly offer a chance to students based on academics alone. How are students who are not strong academically supposed to nurture their sports or artistic talents if schools don’t provide that option for them?
We should not forget that Rwanda is not running sports academies in their numbers. Entering academia is not necessarily everyone’s calling especially for sporty and artistic students. Additionally, I am yet to hear of exclusive music schools in this country. So why should we chase away the student who has a not so attractive pass slip but is a great basketball player, dancer or actor?
First of all these students also need an education but more importantly they can also bring glory to the school even if they don’t appear in the top ten when results are released.
I can give you an example; there was a student in my school who was once publicly ridiculed by our headmaster for performing poorly in his exams and for thinking, he was in the school to play cricket alone. However, he was not expelled for his poor grades (which eventually improved).
Right now, that same boy is the Opening Bowler for Canada’s national cricket team. Whenever he is playing for his adopted country, everyone is quick to point out how the school produced a great sportsman and you will not hear anything about his former academic deficit. He has already appeared at two Cricket World Cup tournaments.
If the US can offer sports scholarships to its best athletes why should we pride in ignoring the same talents? Schools should not hesitate to admit students based on their talents because at the end of the day, the success of such students will bring glory to the same school and the country as a whole. After all, we need more than just doctors and lawyers.