Aside from some senior three and six candidates who are still doing their final examinations, the term for most schools has ended, and students have been sent home for the longest annual break on the school calendar — the two-month end of year holiday.
Students are happy to be home and resting from an extremely grueling school year; however, the excitement to be home might bring trouble instead, if not properly planned.
Drug abuse, the influence of bad groups and engaging in risky sexual behaviour are just a few of the activities some students tend to engage in once outside school.
Dr Isaac Munyakazi, Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, warned students, saying that this is not a liberal time for them.
“Students are urged to take care, help with home chores and abide by parental advice and rules to come back for the next academic year equipped with full learning values, and not to indulge in bad habits,” he said.
Children are urged to take care, and help with home chores. Net photo.
As students break off for holidays, it is possible for them to indulge in unproductive activities.
But how can students make the most out of the holiday?
Talking to parents, teachers and other key players in the industry, a number of activities were proposed that can help students use the holiday productively.
The key is to avoid inactivity, while allowing time to rest and learn other skills that are different from those acquired in school.
This is time for talent development. As the industry grows in Rwanda, this is the right time for students to assess their talents and develop them. Talent will keep their minds occupied so that they don’t engage in bad behaviour, which mostly happens when students are idle.
Viviens Uwizeyimana thought about this issue and sought a way to observe what kids are good at. And this paved way for Impano Development Initiative.
“The programme is committed to ensuring that children remain engaged in talent development activities during school holidays. That is to identify and develop them,” he says.
The programme is based in three areas — Gikondo, Gitega and Rusizi — training 150, 90 and 40 kids respectively. Talent includes dancing, poetry, football, computer literacy, and et cetera. It was Impano Development Initiative that nurtured the Gitega sector Imfura Arts for Peace 2019 battle of poets’ winner.
Reading should be embraced at this time, says Elizabeth Mujawamariya-Johnson, the founder of Grace Rwanda — an institution that calls Rwandan youth to embrace the culture of reading.
She highlights that learners should increase the time they spend reading as now they are a bit free from studies.
“Reading helps one to grow mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Every book gives a tool to learn new things and explore new ideas. So reading books will increase the generation’s knowledge and make them smarter,” Johnson says.
This is why we keep asking learners to increase their time during holidays, she says, “Because the more they read, the more they grow and get things, more than what they are taught in class.”
Johnson believes that the better children are with skills, the more confident and motivated they will be to keep on participating or trying something new, in all areas.
Holiday is a second class
Holiday is not a place of relaxation but a place of acquiring different life skills.
In a phone interview with Education Times, Dr Irenee Ndayambaje, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, said that they do not work with many students, rather, with teachers to prepare for the next academic year.
But he recommends that it is a place where one needs to acquire new skills that are not pulled from the class in search of experience and boosting students’ brainpower.
“It is a time to learn new things starting from home chores to driving. We have to keep in mind that the student belongs to the family, we teach him values to be impactful to the family then to the country. Therefore, let us bear in mind that above belonging to class, he/she belongs to the family,” says Ndayambaje.
Home chores count
Dr Nyinawamwiza, who is also the former principal of University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture, Veterinary and Animal Medicine (UR-CAVM) before joining the Upper House last month, says that parents ought to occupy their children with some domestic work for holidays to go smoothly.
“A child on holiday must get involved in some work which is relatively equal to his or her capacity,” she says.
“The child’s mind should not be pre-occupied with television content. They must be taught several domestic works. This is the kind of work parents should be doing during the holidays,” she says.
To her, it is also a matter of gender promotion because home chores are given to girls as boys are not taught how. So, making them all learn would bring up gender balance.
In this busy and modern world where a parent and child only see each other at supper or weekdays, it rarely happens for a parent to instruct morals to their children.
“We take this time as an advantage because it’s an opportunity to share ideas with our offspring. Give advice and reflect on the previous year, check the performances and account for new strategies. Not only doing that as an act, but teaching our children the way they should too, will be modelling them,” says Emmanuel Niyonsaba, a father of four living in Gasabo.
What is the parent’s role?
The role of parents is a crucial tool. Nyinawamwiza cautions parents to resist the temptation to simply load children with television programmes.
“Most parents rush out to renew the TV subscription every time the term closes,” she says.
“They should reduce the amount of time children spend watching television, while watching out for the kind of material their children are exposed to. Parental guidance is more important during the holiday season.”
Conclusively, education experts believe that holidays are not another space to overload students, but students, through the help of parents, should make the most out of it — after all, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Students need to be kept busy with organised programmes that cover recreation and learning because there can’t be work without play.
Students who want to attend specific universities should use the holiday to check out the requirements of their dream college.
Holidays can also be used to pursue some jobs, trainings and internships, so as to boost work experience.