Team work is known for creating better results. This is why, when students help each other in different aspects of school, excellence in academics is bound to be achieved.
Academic excellence is the established ability to perform, achieve and excel in scholastic activities; and this goes beyond just making good grades.
When students support each other, somehow, it helps weaker students learn best. For instance having discussions in small groups allows them to be free to ask questions and work extremely hard to get the best results not only in class, but also with other activities outside class.
John Mary Musinguzi, a teacher at Little Bears Montessori School, Kigali says, in every school, there are fast learners and slow learners but they all have something they can learn from each other.
“There are no ‘foolish’ students; even a slow student can lead the class provided he or she works on their weaknesses. It is the role of the teacher to see how each can benefit from the other,” he says.
Musinguzi points out group discussions as one of the activities that encourage learning from one another. With this, a teacher gives an assignment that must be done in a group and every member is encouraged to take part.
Debates are also very educative since students are given a chance to do research and even be part of them. Here, for example, groups are made and a teacher or students can choose a motion where a blend of ideas is discussed, this helps students to learn from each other, he says.
He also urges students that while choosing a discussion or revision group, they should select friends who are dedicated and are serious about their academic upgrade. Being part of a group with students who know what they want can help an individual stay focused unlike groups that are unserious.
Musinguzi says it is important for learners to respect and learn efficient management of their time, because each minute counts.
He also notes that spelling challenges and competitions are a way students learn from each other because they spend time together to rehearse through doing research and learning numerous words.
Apart from just winning a competition, such challenges boost the students’ self-esteem, vocabulary, language and help them learn how to use specific words in a sentence, grammar, and spoken English.
For him, games and sports can’t be underestimated when it comes to learning and academic excellence stressing that academic excellence in one way or the other calls for students to think beyond books and exams.
Musinguzi goes on to stress that, when a student excels, they make a meaningful influence to society throughout their lives, and can get a chance to receive academic scholarships, become competitive on the job market and be in position to be of service to those with whom they interact with.
Knight Kuta, a teacher at Mai Childhood Academy, Nyamirambo notes that students can help each other to achieve success through being open to peer learning.
When students interact with their peers, they learn from each other easily even without any supervision, she says.
Students also should take part in extracurricular activities that are designed to encourage and strengthen them in their unique gifts; fulfil administrative tasks, establish programs that are beneficial to them at least once a week, she adds.
Kuta carries on that, discussions foster cohesion amongst the students. She says however that it can only become an effective discussion group if each member is given an opportunity to take part in the discussion. Through discussion, slow learners tend to ask questions for more elaboration leading to effective learning.
She also explains that excelling in academics can be achieved through establishing a study routine noting that when students are organised and know when they have to either do revision or taste their abilities, they will use their time prolifically.
“It is easier to learn when you have a study partner. This encourages lazy students to get motivated in reading their books. Having a study partner assists a student cover many topics in a short time as each discusses for the other what they already know. This is better than revising alone,” Kuta says.
According to Michael Maniraguha, a lecturer at University of Rwanda, Huye Campus, students can easily help each other in academic excellence because first; students know each other’s weaknesses since they deeply know each other than a lecturer. Yet when they explain to each other about any topic, they get to even know better, it becomes easier for them to understand.
He states that sometimes, it is hard for some students to understand the lecturer probably because of the speed, among other things, so it is easier for a student to explain to his or her colleague during these discussions.
Maniraguha notes that a language can also be a barrier in a certain context.
“In our everyday life Kinyarwanda is what is used normally. It might become hard for a student to understand when a lecturer is teaching in a different language, unlike when students come together and discuss in any language they are well conversant with.”