Why the curriculum should relate to life outside the class

One question many students pose today is how relevant what they are studying is to the realities outside classroom.
Engaging students in extra-curricula activities empowers them to better understand the world beyond school. (Photo by Dennis Agaba)
Engaging students in extra-curricula activities empowers them to better understand the world beyond school. (Photo by Dennis Agaba)

One question many students pose today is how relevant what they are studying is to the realities outside classroom.

Eventually, such thoughts make some students lose interest in their studies, most especially when they can’t make a link of what they are studying to the real life they will find outside school when they graduate.

 

Teachers appear to be more interested in completing the syllabi, and thus give little time to enlightening students about the world they will soon find outside school.

 

Peace Abagwaneza, a high school graduate, says their teachers ‘had no time for such since it wasn’t on the curriculum’.

 

She adds that, due to lack of that link between studies and life realities, many students after school find it challenging to cope with life.

The story is however different for a few like Chantal Iribagiza, a Senior Six student at GS Gatenga who says their teachers spare time to tell them about life after school.

Iribagiza and her colleagues testify that the above approach has helped them to build a realistic attitude towards life after school and also link their studies to the world around them.

With all these mixed packages, it is obvious that for many students their academic accomplishments stop at the school gate because the knowledge and skills they acquire are quite irrelevant to their daily encounters.

Education Times talked to different academic experts to share insights on how schools, particularly teachers, can help students to better relate their classroom experiences to the realities of life after school.

Experts share insights

According to Charles Habarizintwari, the executive director of Les Enfants de Dieu, a local non-profit organisation that supports street children, schools ought to mould students beyond the designed curriculum.

“Schools need to design programmes where teachers spare time to create a connection of what students are learning to life outside, most importantly enlightening them about some life lessons which would help them make use of their acquired skills and knowledge,” he explains.

In addition, Habarizintwari says schools should have in place different extra-curricular activities, for instance watching television documentaries that are related to the theories students read in class, and eventually find a way to make connections between their curriculum and the real world.

Vincent Habimana, the deputy headmaster of Kibeho Vocational Training Centre, says creating a connection between studies to the real world keeps students abreast with the world they live in and also enables them to stay interested in their education.

“In my opinion at the end of a lesson, a good teacher should engage students in a real life topic, for instance poverty or unemployment. By enlightening learners on such issues, they are able to recognize how the concepts they learn in the classroom are connected to the outside world,” he explains.

Habimana urges teachers to prepare students to face the world after school by enlightening them on how they can use the skills attained from school to positively influence the world around them by finding solutions to daily challenges.

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Involving students in other activities beyond academics produces all-round learners .  (Dennis Agaba)

Boniface Budandi, a manager at Artnentertainment, a local company that organises social events, says telling students about the realities outside the classroom empowers them to set realistic career goals.

“When a teacher relates studies to the real world, students get a chance to appreciate their desired careers better, change their perceptions, set realistic goals and gain more intuition on the requirements each career calls for,” he says.

Budandi also says it is important to engage students in activities that boost their understanding and inspire them to be passionate about their education, such as workshops, seminars and field studies, to help them gain a first-hand feel of what they study in classroom.

Experts say that taking students through creative discussions, debates or essay competitions gives them a better understanding of the impact their studies have on their life outside school.

What parents think

Munyakazi Abel, a father of four based in Nyamata, Bugesera District, says that a good student is not only reflected through the level of class performance, but also their level of understanding, skills and knowledge about aspects in the world around them.

“Often I remind my children to connect their studies with life at home. I always look forward to seeing a positive change in my children when they return home from school. I assess their attitude towards life, passion for education, career goals, as well as their determination to overcome their life encounters. To me that’s a basis to effective education,” Munyakazi explains.

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Practice what you learn in class.

Munyakazi adds that, “As parents our joy is seeing our children turning into responsible, focused and informed individuals who can lead their lives to a promising future, and that is only possible if schools take the initiative to enlighten students beyond the designed curricula by giving them information that brings life’s realities close to their studies.”

Other parents say relating classroom work to real life encourages students to work hard, boost their passion for education and keeps them focused as they are able to link their studies to their future life.

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