The philosophical singer that he was, Bob Marley cautions us in one of his songs, “…in this great future, you can’t forget your past.”
My focus today is the role the school plays in engendering affection of former students to their school.
It is not far fetched to say that not many former students in Rwanda show a similar attachment to their former schools, probably because many of them studied out of the country and therefore geographically distant from these establishments. Another reason could be that these schools are relatively new.
To create a sustainable relationship with former students a school needs to craft a situation of consistency for it is such situations that may lead to the development of a peculiar school culture that one will be glad to associate with in future.
For example if after seven years a former student finds that none of the teachers that taught him are still in the school then he/she will find trouble identifying with such a school since it will appear to be more of a new school to them.
15 years later, at least five of my primary school teachers are still serving the school and so meeting them evokes nostalgic feelings that easily draw me back to the school.
Another thing a school can do is to ensure that it maintains a high level of success either in academics or sports. In so doing, former students will always find themselves nostalgic of those ‘glory days’ long after they have left the school.
For instance schools like Alliance High School and Starehe Boys in Kenya or even St Mary’s College Kisubi, Kings College Budo, Maryhill or Ntare have a long history of success both in academics and sports.
Many who have attended them are always so proud to associate with them. You may have seen some bumper car stickers for Budo and Kisubi alumni even here in Kigali.
Once this is achieved, school administrations need to make an effort to track their former students as they join higher institutions of learning and later join the working world.
This is very important especially when the school is planning to have a project it wishes the alumni would support.
A list of the prominent former students should be easily available to the school authorities. This same list can be used to encourage current students to work hard in order to emulate their ancestors.
I was privileged to attend a school that has been in existence since 1911 and had among its alumni, a former president, a chief justice, several judges and ministers as well as sportsmen of national repute.
Such an atmosphere encouraged me to work hard and always maintain an enduring love for this school.
Rwandan schools need to critically think about achieving the kind of milestones that years later will have former students falling over themselves to not only be identified as former students of these schools but also willing to support them.
Former students are supposed to serve as ambassadors of their schools and this can only be achieved if the schools make it a point to strive for success and longevity.