In high school, students are officially required to go to class. This is one of the biggest differences between college and high school. College classes are a different question, because in college, you’re:
• Adults who can make their own choices
• Choosing to pay for education that is no longer legally required
However, it’s not uncommon for students to skip classes, even in high school, for different reasons.
Educators believe that when learners skip class, they miss out on the benefits during those lessons, and this, they say, has a negative impact on their studies, especially if the habit is continual.
Why does this happen?
Isaac Ddumba, a teacher at La Colombier School in Kigali, says some of the reasons learners may skip school include laziness—with no one to follow them up—sickness, boredom, and lack of motivation, among others.
However, he says, it’s important to follow-up on such learners to provide the support needed.
Ddumba notes that some students are so unbothered that they refuse to keep time or even follow school rules and regulations.
Another reason for skipping class, he says, could be that learners found something else to do in that time.
Some of these alternate activities, Ddumba says, include sleeping or hanging out with their friends.
Ddumba says the solution to such problems requires parents stepping in and getting involved, and encouraging their children to show enthusiasm as far as their education is concerned.
“As a parent, it’s your role and obligation to find out what your child is into and up to. You should be more concerned about your children’s activities,” he says.
He suggests that schools should come up with strict rules that students should observe. And parents should be aware of these rules so that they help their children abide by them.
“These rules should include curbing student absenteeism, and the consequences should be made clear to parents as well so that they ensure their children follow what is required at the school,” he says.
Aminadhad Niyonshuti, an English teacher at Apapper School in Kicukiro, believes that another step is to ensure that schools balance school time well.
He says students are young, and so their brains are still developing, therefore, they need a well-balanced timetable for class and outdoor activities.
He notes that students may find some classes unexciting, and the more time allocated to these classes, the easier it is for them to lose interest. This will make them want to skip such classes.
Niyonshuti adds that teachers should monitor attendance, track discipline, communicate with parents, and manage assessments in order to ensure all learners’ attendance.
He explains that monitoring attendance is the best way to prevent absenteeism.
Monitoring attendance will reduce the consequence of students skipping class, and help teachers keep records which will improve all outcomes.
Niyonshuti says students who already have a record of absenteeism should be followed-up on.
“The overall strategy of tackling absenteeism should be prioritising discipline. Discussions with learners, especially with parents involved, is paramount,” he observes.
Ddumba say parental involvement should not be taken for granted. He says this will also help curb sluggishness among irregular students.
He says that today, many parents are able to use software that provides access to students’ educational information, and schools should strive to keep it going.
John Nzayisenga, the director of Kigali Harvest School in Kigali, is of the view that some students who skip classes do so because of exam anxiety.
He notes that teachers should strive to make tests regular so that students get used to them.
This, he says, will curb absenteeism. Parents and teachers should work hand-in-hand to ensure that they give learners the support they need at all times.