The reason why parents strive to take their children to school is to ensure they get the knowledge needed to survive and make it through life.
It’s also important to understand that following up on what a child gets in such an environment is essential, because it is knowledge of the world around them.
Educators believe that acquired knowledge from school helps students develop in the way they perceive life and build opinions.
However, experts remark that school is not the only place that will give knowledge to learners and that going to school alone doesn’t guarantee students’ success later in life.
Jesse Rayson Shyaka, a final year student at Kigali Independent University (ULK), and part-time high school teacher of social studies, believes that aside from course work, educators should focus on instilling learners with skills in personal finance, relationship values, survival, and mindfulness among others.
According to him, these skills are essential to learners and in the long run, when they leave the school environment, it’s easy for them to adjust in the real world.
“Since such indispensable skills sometimes are not taught in schools, it’s important for learners, parents and teachers to understand the difference between education and school, as going to school doesn’t guarantee one’s all-round education,” he says.
Shyaka adds that parents have a big role to play in education, just like schools, when it comes to moulding students into well-rounded people.
At school, he says, learners are only equipped with knowledge, especially on subjects and courses, however, education is what helps them make use of the subjects learned and more.
“School is not the only source of knowledge, education comes from the normal life that people live. School is a major part of education because it gives students knowledge in many subjects,” he says.
Faustin Mutabazi, the chief executive officer at Educational Consultancy Bureau, an organisation that supports education and curriculum activities in Kigali, says that most parents think that sending kids to school is the only way they can acquire education, forgetting that their responsibility is to boost ‘education beyond the classroom’.
He notes that educators need to give their students the basics, containing formal and informal education.
Mutabazi gives an example; like in social studies, students should also be given the social aspects of the subject, like putting them into consideration when it comes to community or societal issues.
“If we only focus on school material and forget general education, it will be hard for learners to make it through in life,” he observes.
This, he explains, includes discipline, good morals and how to relate with others, among others.
What can be done?
Teachers and parents are supposed to help students understand the difference between school and an all-round education. But in most cases, this doesn’t happen and learners are left to figure this out on their own.
One of the reasons this doesn’t happen, Shyaka says, is because many parents are busy with work and barely have time for their children.
“We have parents, teachers, and students; as a teacher handles learning at school, parents should educate their kids back at home,” he says.
Prof Alphonse Uworwabayeho, a lecturer of mathematics at the University of Rwanda, says parents should strive at encouraging and supporting learning activities at home.
He says parental involvement in schooling is critical to children’s education, and that it helps enlarge parental and community capacity; they create conditions in which children learn more effectively.
He also adds that they should as well create time for their kids.
He explains that this is so because it helps them work closely, and figure out what a child is missing as far as education is concerned.
To help them understand better, he says that when doing homework, parents should use the opportunity to discover what their child is studying and where their passion is.
For instance, Shyaka says, if a child wants to be an artist or doctor, they need to shape that child in an educational way.
He says this also includes character-building, and personal development skills, so that they discover what is really needed at a young age.
For teachers, he says, there is a need to try to understand students and provide all the support needed.
“Not all students are at the same level when it comes to understanding academically or even socially, so paying attention to them will help a teacher find out what is best for each student,” he says.
Mutabazi says it takes time to understand that as an educator, you are teaching different students with different capabilities, where these students need to work to advance in certain areas on their own.
“Learners should be given broader awareness so that they are not limited to only what they are taught,” he says.
Teachers, Shyaka says, should give learners tasks, not just homework or regular tests, and equip them with important life skills.
For instance, he says, if a child is into writing, they should focus on bringing out the writing skills the learner has.
“This is what helps them grow in the competitive world and make a difference,” he says.
As for students, he says, they should know and understand that school is important, and it’s their responsibility to make sure they embrace other skills that are not emphasised in school.
Uworwabayeho says students should know that the education they get in society and from home is the one that helps them understand better what they have acquired in school.
He says education only becomes important when they transform what they have acquired into reality.
“If we have such motives and change, I believe we can have very competitive people who are ready to work with ease,” Uworwabayeho says.