A few teachers can also be found at the school premises to attend to parents’ needs although this is often left to the school secretary and other administrative staff. Whether skills development, side income generating activities most of teachers’ engagements during holidays seem to have a direct relation to their work and their chief beneficiaries, learners.
When schools break off for holidays, almost everyone involved in the education sector has a word of advice for students on how they should spend their holidays. You will hear a lot about holiday programmes for students or children. Others will be advised to spend time on their hobbies or visit their relatives.
But in all this moment of prattling with advice, nothing is almost ever said about the teachers who will also be free during the same time. This has created a mystery: what do teachers really do during this time? Where do they go? Is it really leave for them or they are just idle and waiting for the new term to begin so they can return to their life routine?
Generally, we tend to look at school holidays from the students’ perspective and rarely do we think much of what is in it for the teachers.
During the recesses that come thrice a year, teachers not only have a time to take a breather, they also have time for activities they have been putting away or couldn’t fit in their daily programmes during regular schooling.
For some, the holidays bring a chance to make an extra buck through their skills which are always on demand. Parents who are willing to pay for their child’s extra tuition and coaching may procure the services of the teachers.
“As a headmaster I get approached by parents who want me to recommend teachers who can conduct extra tuition for their children. Some are parents who want to see their children improve academically and others are parents who want to keep their children away from too much passive entertainment like TV,” says Brian Kasawuli, the head teacher of Alpha Community Academy.
Kasawuli says private tuition is a common engagement for many teachers and comes as a result of request from parents.
“The holiday tuition engages many teachers before they can head home for holidays. A good number of the private school teachers are from Kenya or Uganda and before they leave for their countries for the Christmas festivities, holiday tuitions keep them busy,“ he says.
Other teachers participate in the marking of national examinations during this same time.
“Most of our teachers register with Rwanda Education Board to be part of the marking of the national examinations during the holidays before getting on with whatever else they have to do,” says Martine Muhongayire, the principal of Wellspring’s Academy.
“We also have teachers who engage students in areas or subjects where they may require extra assistance. If a student has challenges in a particular subject, they could use the break as an opportunity to engage the teacher further so that they can catch up. Teachers can also use up this time to get in touch with parents to discuss and review students’ performance in and out of class.”
Holidays could also serve as chance for teachers to trade their positions in the classroom and be learners for those seeking to advance their skills through different refresher courses or new courses to up their game. GS ADB, Nyarutarama’s principal, Jean Marie Nzabamwiza explains that some teachers undergo training sessions to add to their skill and improve their delivery.
“During the holidays our teachers undergo training of trainers in various fields to improve on their skills and update them on the latest teaching trends for them to be able to facilitate better. They undergo trainings in fields such as; computer science, motor vehicle mechanics, construction skills, electronic engineering,” he says.
The programme is carried out by The Technical and Vocational Schools Association in Rwanda (TVESA) in partnership with GIZ.
Nzabamwiza adds that two weeks before schools resume, teachers are occupied with preparing work schemes for the coming term and reviewing their previous term’s performance.
“The last two weeks before schools resume are spent in strategising and planning for the term ahead and also reviewing previous performance to ensure good delivery once the recess ends. We consider it important to plan during the holiday so that it doesn’t take up students’ time when school resumes.”
Betty Mukashema who is a senior mentor in Nyarugenge District in school based mentoring programme that is working to improve teachers’ English Proficiency explains that holidays are teachers’ time to rest and engage in private business but at times they are engaged in skill development programmes.
“Holidays are teachers’ private time but it depends on situations, at times we have programmes or workshops during the holidays courtesy of the Rwanda Education Board, like the two week programme we have been implementing with public school teachers. Some teachers are also involved in marking of the national exams during the holiday.”
How should teachers spend the long holiday
Vedaste Mudenge, security guard:
Teachers should use their time in holidays to do more research and also evaluate their performance in the previous term. They should also use that time to draw lesson plans for the next term.
Mani Martin, musician
Teachers need to relax their minds during holidays and hang out some more to refresh their minds for the new term. Teachers do a lot of work during the school term and therefore need to rest during holidays.
Fred Mugisha, social worker
They should spend the holidays by participating in community work, and also use that time to attend to their families since they are always busy during school time yet their families need them too.
Marie Joselyne Umutoniwase, student
Teachers should attend to their other businesses if they have any or do coaching. They can also use that free time to draw up lesson schedules for the next term.
Rebecca Dusabe, parent
The method of holidays in Africa is an enslaving system left here by colonialists. Work, be paid little, go for holidays, eat it up and come begging the following term; nothing left to invest. What a teacher has not done in school days they can’t do in holidays.