Students have resumed school for the third term following a three-week holiday. As expected, they are all eager to do their best to be able to ascend the ladder on their academic journey. But to achieve this, educationists believe that schools and students should be purposely guided to maximise the third term.
According to Claudine Nzitabakuze, the head of Teacher Education Management and Professionalisation Department at Rwanda Education Board (REB), being the third term, it means there is no time to waste as this is a crucial time in the students’ learning cycle.
“Teachers should respect the time given for the third term and report for work immediately to manage their time well. They should commence with unfinished work from last term to give room for wider revision,” he says.
Nzitabakuza notes that much as the culture of giving out assignments to students while breaking for holidays has been embraced by schools, more follow up should be done once students report back to school.
According to him, this provides a good opportunity especially during this third term for teachers to revise with students and find out the weak areas to focus on.
What schools should do differently
Alphonse Habimana, the principal at Kigali Leading Technical Secondary School, says more effort should be put in preparing students for national exams, especially for technical schools.
He says focusing on practical work more than theory is the way to go. Also, organising internship programmes for the students sitting national exams is another strategy.
“This is to ensure they have what it takes to fit in the competitive market. It gives them a chance to find out how things are done in different organisations, which sharpens their understanding as well,” says Habimana.
For Paul Oga, the dean of students at Green Hills Academy Kigali, schools should have a study programme to guide students and advise them on how to prepare for the exams. Schools, he adds, should also monitor students strictly.
“Parents at home are at times too busy working or studying for different programmes hence too occupied to help their children. In that case, they should hire tutors to make sure their children do not lag behind,” he says.
For the senior students, Frank Rubaduka, the development director at Youth Impact Mission, who also doubles as a mentor, schools should organise academic seminars to enable students meet their colleagues from different schools to build confidence in preparation for national exams.
He adds that learners should be encouraged to form small group discussions for effective revision.
Rubaduka adds that third term should not be for teachers to teach and pressurise students, rather, it should be time for internalising the content and revising in preparation for exams.
Parents, on the other hand, he says, should visit schools and work together with teachers to inspire their children.
“Treating children with love and passion rather than being dictatorial improves their chances of performing better in their studies,” says Rubaduka.
What teachers should do
Joseph Sserwanja, the head of ICT at Lycée de Kigali, says third term can be tricky, especially when it comes to teachers guiding and helping students have enough time to revise.
The best way to go, he says, is for teachers to make sure they are through with their lessons in the first four weeks after schools have opened.
“This is so because it gives both teachers and students ample time to go through their work, which is more important during the third term,” Sserwanja says.
He adds that third term is a time for teachers to focus more on preparing their students for exams by providing them with more revision materials.
“Teachers should not take this time to only load learners with book work all the time; they should create time for physical activities to refresh learners’ minds, such as engaging in sports. This enhances their chances of doing better while learning as they are refreshed,” Sserwanja says.
Jackyline Irabagiza, a counsellor and matron at Martyrs Secondary School in Remera, Kigali, believes that the best strategy, especially in the third term and when schools open, is going through holiday assignments with learners and allowing them to do more revision on their own.
“For students to achieve more, especially those preparing for national exams, they should learn to do their own revision with little supervision. They should relax, set timetables as well as read widely to ensure their success,” she says.
Role of students
Rubaduka is of the view that students should know that, automation and artificial intelligence has arrived in this era, and they should study to understand and innovate around their subjects.
“They should involve a lot in extra-curricular activities so as to boost their talents because the jobs of the future will be dictated by passion and creativity capacity,” he says.
Sserwanja advises that students should stay away from things that can interfere with their learning. For instance, he points out that spending a lot of valuable time on social media platforms like facebook or Whatsapp should be discouraged, while online academic research should be promoted.
Knowing how to balance time well is also important, according to him. He says as much as students need time to revise and study, they also need some time to refresh their mind through engaging in extra curricular activities.
Oga says students should read widely beyond notes given by their teachers.
“Reading widely and extensively prepares students to think critically, which improves the chances of success. They should focus more on reviewing their work and going through past papers. Following through with individual teacher comments and objectively looking at areas where they didn’t score good grades is recommended. Students should as well seek teachers’ guidance in weak areas,” he says.
Having a balanced study and revision programme is important for learners this term, says Oga.