When wE talk about students balancing work and study, do we only think of the youth? Some may consider juggling work and education a cocktail for academic failure, and yet self-determination is a powerful weapon.
Determination has created self-made millionaires in the US at 16 or 17 years of age. Though the US is by no means comparable to Rwanda, self-determination can be compared, as it can be the quality or character trait of any individual.
John Maxwell, author and motivational speaker on leadership, believes that when you want something done, ask the busiest people, because they have the capacity, tenacity, drive and determination to get the job done. It is called leadership. Maxwell coined the phrase ‘the law of the lid’ which describes a ceiling, a cap or a limit. “Personal and organisational effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of leadership” says Maxwell. Bill Hybels calls it ‘living beyond yourself’.
I speak from first hand experience on this matter. I myself juggled several years with two part-time jobs (up to 50hrs between them), a full-time subject load at university, raising three teenagers and actively involved in the community. Rwandan friends at Mt Kenya University travel from Butare or Kinigi every Friday evening to spend their Saturday/Sunday sitting in a lecture room. These are very busy people spending 60hrs or more a week in their workplace as school principals or human resource managers. A couple of other friends, a bank manger and country director of an NGO respectively, spend six nights a week in a lecture theatre from 6-9pm. Some of my former students balance lectures in the day and work in the evening.
Why do we push ourselves one asks? It is the determination to ‘lift our lid’, positional and financial, whilst juggling duties and responsibilities. Which should come first, the job or studies?
The brain is a much under-utilised organ of our bodies, thrives on stimulus - dies unutilised like any muscle. We really don’t comprehend the brain’s capacity, physically or mentally. Balanced diet, rest, exercise and relationships give our bodies the best opportunity in life. If every Rwandan were to ‘lift the lid’, the lid lifts on our country as well.
Upcoming changes in education such as the introduction of Diploma in Education through Kigali Institute of Education, means thousands of primary school teachers across Rwanda, will be expected to balance work and study; similarly with vocational teachers and Post-grad in TVET.
Social life is a major consideration for recent secondary graduands, who waste their scholarship opportunity, caring more about where they fit in their social realm, than sacrificing and devoting the few important years in ‘lifting their lid’.
Elitism organically manifests where education becomes a catalyst to development. Rich and poor, (have’s and have not’s) divide when opportunity, determination and leadership stimulate and steer a nation through development. Rostow (a development theorist) introduced 5 stages of development. However Rwanda is in ‘lift off’ stage in other words ‘lifting the lid’ on her economy and global status. Rwanda recognises the difficulties for rural communities in accessing post-secondary education, thus university education has become decentralised.
An under-appreciated contribution to balancing work and university, are the masses, perhaps never to see university, yet remain faithful to sustainability of the land and food production. Is it even feasible to consider partners in university education are Rwandans who sacrifice such opportunity, by remaining on the land, providing the nation’s food sustainability?
Let Rwanda not become like the West where nations import food because their population forgot how important food production was in the process of balancing work and university study.
The writer is the deputy principal, student welfare, Riviera High School.