THE RESULTS from last year’s national examinations are about to be released anytime soon. However nothing significant will change. Actually, the practice is almost simply a ritual. The education official in charge hands over the results. The best schools and students will be named.
And our newspapers will have stories about the brilliant students and the amazing stories of sacrifices that their parents may have to share. After a few days, the dust will settle and we shall all move on with our lives.
I have often heard people talking about how education in countries like ours is boring since it pays so much attention to academics and shuts out other areas. They often compare it to Europe and US where ‘a child can become whatever he wants to become from the start’.
It is actually not so difficult to have the same thing going on in our school system. We can always start with small steps and work our way to the top. How about if we started with a clear policy from the Ministry of Education on something like clubs in schools?
Yes the Ministry can choose to make it mandatory for schools to have clubs as part of the other activities that a child can partake while at school. The same energy invested in ensuring that schools have computer and science labs can be extended to something like clubs, sports as well as music, dance and drama.
Time should be allotted for these activities and all students expected to belong somewhere when that time comes. I remember in my primary school, it was I think Thursday afternoon that we had time for these events.
After lunch we were all expected to move to our respective clubs and those found ‘homeless’ were often punished or offered to other clubs. I remember being a member of the current affairs club and we generally sat and talked about world events. I do not think that it is, therefore, a coincidence that I am now involved in the media business almost two decades later.
Having these clubs in primary schools can go a long way in identifying and possibly nurturing young talent. One of the reasons why we sometimes perform so poorly as a country in aspects like football is because our footballers are discovered late and they cannot think of a long meaningful career as sportspersons.
It would be good for schools to have these clubs and each club to have a teacher as a patron to guide the young ones. Once we have developed these clubs well enough we can use them to develop relationships with other schools that have similar clubs.
For example, the wildlife clubs of say four schools could link up and organise a joint trip to a game park to learn about the animals that are available in Rwanda and then return to share the same knowledge with other students.
Other clubs can also be linked with national bodies. I have, for example, always been touched by the dedication of clubs like Red Cross (Croix Rouge) in some schools when it comes to helping fellow students during emergency situations. They help traumatised Genocide victims and quickly take the very ill to the health centres without hesitation.
Such a club can be started in a school and as it develops it is linked to the national body for assistance in terms of training and possibly equipment to help them do their job diligently. It is even much more straightforward when it comes to sports clubs as these can easily serve as feeder channels for the national sports associations.
With the majority of our people in school, clubs should be used to offer them more than what they need to write during an exam. They need a holistic education and clubs are a good starting point. All schools ought to have them in place.