Teacher’s Mind: Best performers ought to be rewarded

As this week began, many students that sat their final ‘A’ level examinations last November were busy trying to get hold of their results. The news had already filtered through that the results for the Senior 6 examination for 2008 were out.

As this week began, many students that sat their final ‘A’ level examinations last November were busy trying to get hold of their results.

The news had already filtered through that the results for the Senior 6 examination for 2008 were out. And that the general performance was  much better than that of the previous year. 

Rwanda being an ICT savvy country, the options for knowing the results seemed numerous. Some students were quick to show up at their former schools to inquire from their teachers.

Others used their mobile phones to send a text message to +489 for the results to be sent to their phone screens instantly.

A good number that have access to the internet have been logging onto www.rnec.ac.rw to find out how they performed.

As everyone was concentrating on the rather wonderful performance, the Minister of Education, Dr. Daphrose Gahakwa made an interesting announcement.

The New Times of March 2, 2009 reported the minister as having said that the best performing students will be rewarded. To some people this may appear to be a light statement not worth elaborating in the pages of this paper.

As a teacher, I don’t just think but also know that rewarding students for good performance is a very good thing to do.

As Psychologists tell us, the best way of conditioning any animal is by punishing it for undesirable behaviour while rewarding it for the good behaviours.

Therefore, it is only right and fitting for the Ministry of Education to reward students that performed well. Rewarding best performers will go a long way in improving the standards of education in the country.

This is because the current students will be motivated to work hard so as to be the ones shaking the Minister’s hand the following year.

Those rewarded will also be motivated to keep up the good performance as they embark on their further studies at different higher institutions of learning.

Although the Minister hinted that students that scored grade A in all the subjects would be rewarded, I wish more students could be rewarded.

Unfortunately the government cannot reward everyone. However the task of rewarding best performers is not a preserve of the Education Ministry.

Corporate companies like MTN, SULFO or MUTARA enterprises can also reward best performers as part of their corporate social responsibility programme.

The New Times can for instance reward the best English language performers. After all such a student may make a good writer who may even be employed by the paper in the future.

Districts can also reward the best performers in their area. At a lower level, schools need to reward their best students. These students do not have to be among the best in the country but simply the best in that particular school.

This has to be done in the presence of all current students if it is to carry any significance. The current students can then know for a fact that hard work surely pays.

A former student being recognised by the headmaster with a great gift can go a long way in motivating the younger ones still in the school to perform better.

Even the students that will be rewarded by the ministry should also get something from their school. This is because the rest of the school may not be present to see the Minister rewarding their colleagues and thus miss a very inspiring moment.

The gifts do not have to be sophisticated in anyway although I know of a school in a neighbouring country where best performers are given car keys!

What is important is the symbolism of the moment. The handshake, the photo opportunity and the encouraging speeches is what matters most.

By the way I know what this moment means for I was once rewarded handsomely by my school for emerging victorious in a national school quiz.  

Contact: ssenyonga@gmail.com

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