Student motivation: The key to academic success

The significance that students today are disposed to a fast paced world; with this, they are inclined to a culture of distraction, something that has direct impact on how they perform in their studies.

Teachers on the other hand are left with the challenge of designing strategies that must be appealing and exciting for all students, for it is imperative to motivate students if they are to achieve academic success.

Simon Ssematengo, a Chemistry and Mathematics teacher at Mother Mary Complex School in Kigali, says education in the modern era should take its course by equipping children with necessary skills.

He says that, at times, for children to lack motivation, it stems from their homes whereby everything is done for them, noting that most of them are left to spend their free time watching TV, movies and playing games. This, he says, ultimately has an impact on education.

Students practice essay writing. Net photo.

Educators pinpoint the role parents have to play in having their children motivated. They believe that if children don’t spend much of their time with their parents, house-helps are the ones who take over and in most cases, they do everything for them without involving them in any activity whatsoever.

This, Ssematengo says, promotes laziness that affects children’s lives socially and academically.

Ssematengo says because of this, learners are spoiled and are unable to think outside the box which, therefore, becomes hard for them to even do the homework they are given at school, among other chores.

He notes that if learners become lazy, they eventually show lack of interest in schoolwork which has a negative impact on their academics.

“Laziness or being unenthusiastic can make students perform poorly in academics leading to their failure. Some of these students will fail, not that they can’t perform well, but because they are too lazy for revision,” he says.

Isaac Ddumba, a teacher at La Colombiere School in Kigali, says it is important for all students to be motivated in order to enjoy the learning process, and at the same time, retain the information they are being taught for their own good.

According to him, the only way of dealing with this is to have teachers find different ways of motivating them. This, he says, is often the key to success.

He is, hence, of the view that teachers and parents come up with numerous ways of motivating students, adding that when students are motivated, they are likely to perform better—not only in academics but in other areas as well.

“What educators need to understand is that when learners are motivated, it can help stimulate their interest in completing work, increase participation in class discussions, and encourage them to study for exams, all of which discourage laziness,” he says.

Understanding students’interest

Another important aspect when it comes to discouraging students from being or becoming lazy is through learning and understanding their interests, according to Julius Zigama, an entrepreneur, visual artist, poet and art trainer for children and youth.

He notes that educators should be in position to incorporate the interests of the students in their lesson plans.

This, he says, can be done right from an early stage so that it becomes easier to help and follow up on each and every student.

He also says discussing with students and setting clear expectations is another way to keep students motivated.

“Teachers need to ensure that all of their students, as well as their parents/guardians, are aware of the expectations they have set for a certain period of time. If such expectations are not met, students and parents can be held accountable,” he says.

Alternatively, Zigama says it’s important to offer small rewards, especially for the students who observe good behaviour and perform well.

He says it’s important for students to always be recognised for exhibiting model behaviour and receiving excellent grades because it gives them morale to continue working hard.

Need for independence

Ssematengo points out that in this era, it’s very common to observe that children are being groomed in a manner of depending on others, whereby it’s hard for them to figure out how the world operates.

He, hence, encourages that depending on the age of the child and financial status of the parent, it can be good if the parent decides to take their kids to a boarding school rather than a day school.

This, he says, is because he believes that boarding schools are better at inculcating a spirit of independence in learners than day schools, and that they train learners by assigning them tasks in many aspects including leadership and academics.

Pierre-Célestin Niwemwungeri, a teacher at GS Sihinga in Gatsibo District, believes that creating rules that guide children both at home and school can help foster independence in learners.

He says this technique works best because it helps students learn, and at the same time, understand where they go wrong and how to correct their mistakes.

He, however, notes that even though some parents find it hard to get time for their children, it’s important if they work closely with the teachers that can help them understand what goes on in their children’s lives.

“They can get at least one day per week to meet with both teachers and their children, to discuss the way forward as far academics is concerned.”

Ddumba says schools have a big role to play to ensure that students remain on the right track.

“Educators should help and guide students on how to present their daily personal routines or timetables, which will help them be programmed if followed well,” he says.

He adds that this should be mandatory for every learner so that when they come to school, they have something to drive them, other than going to school for the sake of learning only.

“Coming up with rules at school and at home is important, this will help guide learners on what they should do on the right time. It can also help them learn how to work independently without waiting for another person to remind them,” he says.

He also notes that embracing problem-based learning is important.

“A teacher can come up with small groups of students where each group will have to determine their own solutions depending on what they have been taught,” he says.

Through this, students will be able to develop their own ideas for homework assignments related to what is being studied in class, which is also important when it comes to their success, he explains.


Faustin Mutabazi, Chief executive officer of Education Consultancy Bureau in Remera, Kigali
One of the best starting points for parents getting involved in their children’s academics is through parent-teacher conferencing, or open house. This should be scheduled in each school, and it’s a great opportunity for parents to get feedback.
Aminadhad Niyonshuti, Teacher
There is a need to educate parents on the importance of being there for their children. In fact, this should include both parents because a child can only excel in all aspects if they get attention and love from both parents.

Francoise Ishimwe, Youth mentor
Parents should stop practicing what is called ‘dead love’, this is where they tend to over pamper their children and at the end, they become spoilt. However, a big number do this unknowingly, there is a need for them to be educated on how much is too much.
Rosaline Ihirwe, Parent
Constant communication between teachers and parents is important as it keeps both parties updated on how students are faring both at school and home. Also, finding time to guide and monitor learners helps them stay on the right track.