A ritual is simply a set of actions performed for their symbolic value. Rituals may be prescribed by the religions we ascribe to or the traditions of the communities we belong to. Greetings are probably the commonest rituals that we are expected to perform each time we meet other people.
It is for this reason that most language lessons are initiated with how to greet. In Rwanda for instance, a greeting is often incomplete without a handshake. If anyone is offered a handshake, it is polite and expected that you do the same.
Similarly, if in the morning someone said to me, “Good morning Allan.” The expected response from me, regardless of how my morning is fairing, would be, “Good morning to you.” A ritual is therefore an agreed social habit that a community indulges in without much thought on procedure.
This week, primary and secondary schools across Rwanda reopened for the second term of the academic year. This coincided with the Easter weekend. Since classes officially started on Monday, many students attending boarding schools had to travel back to school on Easter Sunday.
By Monday the number of students trying to find their way back to school had grown evident especially at the Nyabugogo Main Taxi Park where it was a hustle for students to find transport to upcountry schools. The familiar picture of a lone student with a mercilessly tied mattress, a travel bag and a backpack probably full of books was hard to ignore.
This sight has become so familiar that many of us rarely spare a second look. Only a few people are likely to express surprise that students are returning to school. These are usually university students whose academic calendar is different.
The beginning of the term calls for more than the ritual of packing and heading to school. Teachers for instance need to be ready to immediately kick off with classes with the holiday having provided them with the much needed recuperation to resume work with enthusiasm.
The business of spending weeks before you find your groove is not acceptable.
More importantly school authorities must have stocked up on food and all other vital requirements for running the school without any major hiccups. For example major repairs on school infrastructure should have been done and completed during the holiday.
On their part, parents should furnish their children with enough scholastic material to enable a smooth academic experience. It would pay to buy your child at least one book to read as this will go a long way in nurturing their reading culture as well as improving their chances of passing exams. Clearing school dues is another smart thing to do.
Parents need to always remind their children to work hard and maintain discipline while at school. I personally cannot count the number of times my mother reminded me to work hard before I left for school.
I also often got similar counsel from any of my uncles or aunties that I met before heading to school. This wise counsel always served as a stark reminder that many people had vested interests in my academic success.
Lastly students must report on time with the necessary requirements. An effort must be made to improve on the previous term’s performance both academically and discipline wise.
Each school term is a step towards the pinnacle of academic achievement and should be approached with new determination and better strategies for achieving success.