The holiday is around the corner. And this means students will have time off from the usual school routine to relax and share a great deal of time with family, friends and guardians.
However, from the famed adage that goes; ‘an idle mind is a devil’s workshop’, there is a certain likelihood that students are bound to get themselves into criminal activities such as drug abuse and exposure to early sexual deeds which in turn may derail them and deny them a bright future.
As a parent, guardian, teacher, elder or student: the grand question then is; how can students use the holidays fruitfully?
Engage children in sports
While students follow a timetabled busy school schedule, keeping them busy may not necessarily mean subjecting them to similar routine activities lest the holidays become boring.
Brenda Twinomujuni, a school-based mentor of Groupe Scholaire Nganzo and Gitotsi, says: “Holidays are about relaxing the mind. Students ought to indulge in activities that soothe the mind to recuperate when school reopens.”
“Most students indulge in coaching which subjects the brain to repetitive work. While it may work for others, it may not necessarily cut across all sections of students. That should perhaps be encouraged for candidates. As the saying goes, Work without play makes Jack a dull boy,” Twinomujuni adds.
Students should indulge in sporting activities that will keep them physically active and at the same time sharpen their mental agility.
House chores, coaching
However, Sheila Uwibona of Remera- Kigali, a mother of two boys, says: “Despite the fact that they are just boys, whenever I have time I engage them in house chores to keep them active but most importantly groom them into self reliant gentlemen. I also sign them up for tennis and swimming classes to keep them physically fit as a healthy body is said to create a healthy mind.”
She, however, adds that coaching isn’t a bad idea altogether. “I let a teacher coach them in the areas they appear to be weak at school and also polish their best subjects. This, however, should be done cautiously by alternating their time of play with coaching so as not to create a total school environment. Learning in a jovial atmosphere is paramount if they are to grasp whatever is being taught,” she says.
Pursue personal interests and catch up with family
Holiday is the time for students to pursue activities of interest to them which they consider meaningful and rewarding. These could cut across many fields such as studying brief courses like baking and confectionery, tailoring, art, creative writing, reading novels or driving lessons for the ones that are eligible. These can generally help students learn some important life skills not taught in class but most importantly can keep them busy.
George Semujju, a school based mentor of Groupe Scholaire of Rusororo and Joma Primary School, says: “Holidays are the best time students have to put in practice what they have learnt at school. From sanitation, gardening and helping out the vulnerable people in their communities. Putting to practice the class knowledge not only engages them but also makes them more appreciated by their families as young people that will turn out responsible and valuable assets to their communities.”
By virtue that many will have a lot of ample time on themselves, they could visit relatives, friends and historical sites. Peter Niyibizi, a father of three from Kigali, says: “It is important to let children know their heritage, culture and history. I let them visit different places from around Rwanda where they can learn about their country. They have previously been visiting genocide memorial sites that help them buttress knowledge they have got from class about Rwanda from a personal perspective.”
“I also encourage them to read though not as much as they would in school about different subjects that can help them personally broaden their knowledge on different aspects of life in general to keep them abreast with what is going on locally and internationally,” he adds.
He notes that unlike today, in the past, parents used to send their children to relatives that helped teach children their culture. “In our times, girls would visit their paternal aunts to tutor them in womanhood from which they grew up to be respectable wives and reliable women of substance in society.”
Students speak out
Students also equally expressed their sentiments on how they can productively spend their holidays.
Claudette Niyibigira, a Senior One student from Groupe Scholaire Rugando, says she usually spends her holidays helping out her parents at home with the house chores.
“I also have a passion for gardening; so I use the holidays to take care of all the flower beds at home” she says, adding that students use their holidays to catch up on weak areas in class.
However, Herve Nzayisenga, Claudette’s classmate from Groupe Scholaire Rugando, has an almost similar perspective. He says despite the fact that they get enough time to read at school, his performance in the recent past has been dwindling.
“I will devote my holidays to studying and improving my grades. If I am to secure a better future, my academic grades really matter.” However, he advises students to help out at home because they are all indebted to their parents’ financial sacrifice towards their school dues.
According to some teachers The Education Times talked to, travelling even when not very much embraced due to societal norms and culture that doesn’t trust students moving without supervision could equally help. This could have a mental imprint of the local geography on the students’ mind.
Camping has for decades been one of the activities students indulge in usually organised under school clubs like scouts.
With the growing number of youths every day, the government of Rwanda set up initiatives in which youth can get involved to keep them busy but most importantly from which they can learn.
There are several youth centres across the country to which students can go and spend their quality time productively. Some of the very prominent ones in Kigali are located in Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge.
These youth centres provide a range of games for entertainment that students indulge in to learn and perfect their skills in the various games ranging from football, basketball, chess, and volley ball among others. Cyber cafes are also equally available from which students can access information at no cost.
Students could also take advantage of the available public libraries to acces novels or other reading material that can engage them.
However, there are also organisations that provide youth trainings to back up government initiatives. These teach a range of life skills that are beneficial to the youth in general.
One such organisation is Young Voice Africa that provides a magazine platform on which youth freely express and exchange ideas on different societal issues that affect them in their day to day lives. Programmes like counselling, team building, nutrition, drug abuse, crafts and writing skills are taught through interactive trainings with the youth.
TEACHERS, PARENTS GIVE THEIR ADVICE
Edith Mukandoli, teacher and parent
It is only when you set rules at home that your children can become productive. I think holidays are not just for bonding with the children but also a chance to understand every child’s behaviour. The parent should also use the time to shape them into exemplary people.
Florentine Harerimana, teacher
When my children are at home during holidays, I rarely do any house chores. This is not to punish them but as a teacher and parent, I know life after school is very different from that of a student. I do it to help my children learn how to do things by themselves.
Thomas Munyaneza, teacher
I always advise my students to help out their parents with work. This way they will avoid bad habits like drug consumption and promiscuity that could land them in trouble.
Eugenie Nyiraneza, teacher
During holidays, I try to keep my children at home. I draw a time table that includes playing and doing house chores. I also make sure the children spare some time to revise their books.
Jean-Paul Ndekezi, parent
A holiday is not time meant to be wasted. Learners must join their parents in doing house chores in order to avoid destructive peer groups. Parents should in particular keep a keen eye on their daughters to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sleeping out in clubs.
Theodosine Uwamahoro, teacher
Giving your child time to relax is important but they should also be given house chores to do. Much as children may find excuses to continue playing, a parent should ensure that they have some time to read since some schools start the term with tests.