A few weeks ago, primary and secondary schools resumed for the third term of this academic year. It’s that time when students are getting ready to go to the next level of their academic ladder. It is, therefore, imperative that all parties involved in the academic lives of students understand the significance of this term.
Parents and schools have unique roles in shaping learners and preparing them to be able to pass through this short but critical term. However, from the academic perspective, students ultimately have the role to make decisions that can impact their performance this term.
According to Alex Mushumba, the head teacher of Martyrs High School, Kigali, schools always come up with unique and different measures to engage students as they believe the term is reflective of what they can achieve or not.
“This is a very short term and it determines whether a student is allowed to get promoted to the next class, so we don’t have any time to waste. The timetable is packed and we ensure that there is a lot of supervision.
Particularly at our school, we set strategic policies where, for instance, we stop lessons at 4:10pm and we give students 30 minutes to relax, after which they go back to class for night preps under serious supervision. This is coupled with weekly tests and more homework,” he explains.
For candidates, however, Mushumba says the third term comes with all sorts of pressures, which can cause them stress.
“Everything, from imminent deadlines, exams and getting ready to move out of their schools, and they’re therefore advised to work hard,” he counsels.
Educationists also say that teachers should prepare to complete the syllabi, but as well be well-equipped with other relevant materials to guide students.
“For the students, a lot more is expected in terms of discipline and academic effort for they need to be ready for their examinations at the end of the year. It is not simply an issue of sitting the exams, but also aiming for good marks. Success or failure in these examinations is bound to greatly influence one’s future career, so utmost seriousness ought to be accorded,” says Alfred Bizimungu, an education officer in Nyagatare sector in the Eastern Province.
Bizimungu also notes that equipping teachers with requisite teaching skills can go a long way in preparing them for the third term as this will definitely lead to students’ success.
“I have been seeing schools providing capacity building for their teachers aimed at keeping them well-informed with what is expected of them as teachers and role models for these students. This is essentially what we normally advise other schools to emulate,” he explains.
Since the term is always loaded with promotion exams, graduation ceremonies in some schools and other activities, Bizimungu urges teachers to plan ahead for these activities to move smoothly.
Candidate students need special attention
Edward M. Kabare, a head teacher of Nyagatare Secondary School in the Eastern province describes third term as ‘headache’ and characterised by pressures for both students and schools, but emphasises that candidates should be given much attention.
“Third term really gives everyone headache - both teachers and students. Teachers most of the time have huge responsibilities to follow up on students who are sometimes ‘crazy’, especially those in ordinary classes. However, to overcome this, teachers are tasked to prepare lessons and cover much of the syllabus in the first two terms to avoid pressures the following term,” he explains.
“In this term we also expect a lot from candidate students inquiring about university applications processes and career choices. This is why we think it’s always better to prepare students early, equip them with materials that will assist them in identifying what they want to learn and why,” he adds.
Kabare advises schools that having a few mentors or other school-based counsellors, which seems to be a problem in many public schools, is very important as it reduces pressure on students and schools when it comes to the last term of the academic year.
Parents always have a major role throughout their students’ academic life, and this is why they are called upon to play a more critical role when third term comes.
“As parents, we need to dispense our responsibilities. Parents and guardians need to furnish the students with all the necessary scholastic materials before the school term starts. Some lazy students will be quick to claim that they failed examinations because they did not have this or the other. To seal that window, a parent should endeavour to give his child the necessary items,” says Claudine Mukanyirigira, a parent from Bumbogo Sector in Gasabo District.
Parents also ought to pay their children’s fees and ensure they have a hitch-free term, as doing so at the last minute may affect a student in one way or another.
“You shouldn’t wait to pay school fees when a student is sent away from school. Despite the financial hardships in some families, there should be a strategy to pay the school dues early. For instance, buying things like a scientific calculator for a student before he departs to school is better than waiting for exams to begin because they won’t be able to perfect its use,” says another parent from Gasabo.
The third term can be more intense in some cases than others. While some students only have to worry about how well they end their school year and their national exams, others worry about tons of other responsibilities, says Stella Ituze of Gashora Girls Academy.
“I am a Senior Six student, and ahead of me are my mocks and college applications. I have a duty to attend to these different tasks because they are equally important,” she says.
Joan Rwagitare, a student of Lycee De Kigali, explains that third term is crucial because it determines the overall end of year performance.
“Third term is actually important and it’s where I have to invest more efforts so as to be promoted to the next class. I spend a lot of time revising compared to the other terms,” she says.
Rwagitare also says this should be a time to balance all responsibilities by scheduling activities and drafting daily to-do lists.
For Ssadu Mushimiyimana, a student from Groupe Scolaire Gatenga, this term is another good time to reflect on how far you have come and what you really want to achieve.
“Perhaps, you are thinking about your next step in education or work. The last term being the end of the academic year is a natural point for reflection, and you have to seriously think about the things you’ll want to achieve in the end,” he says.
Afissa Uwihoreye, a Senior 6 student at GS Rugando
This being my final term in high school, among the strategies I have to use to excel is group work. I believe every student does individual studying while at home or school and you can never discover your weak areas while alone. Such groups help one work on their weak areas.
Alicia Batamuliza, a parent from Kimironko
Talking to your child to come up with a revision timetable at home is the key. Additionally, it will also make the child more responsible. Finding out from the teachers how the child is fairing compared to previous terms at school is important.
Joselyne Ishimwe, an S4 student at Apapper Complex School
Doing more research and being hard working will definitely improve one’s grades and improve their chances of moving to another level. On the other hand, building a good and strong student-teacher relationship will improve the learning environment, which in the end will improve performance.
Fiologan Rwasa, a parent from Kimisagara
If a student is a candidate, making sure they have the necessary school materials will ensure good performance. I believe also as a parent, finding out weak areas for your child is essential as it will guide you on how to work with teachers to ensure their improvement.
Yvonne Uwimana, a S5 student at GS Rugando
For this final term, I will dedicate enough time to study, making sure that I utilise my time well and working closely with my colleagues and teachers. Interacting with students from other schools is good as it helps one discover what they missed.