Nov 16, 2015, 9:57 AM
The third term of the academic calendar is commonly known to be an examination and award celebrations epoch in educational institutions around the world.
These examinations and celebrations arrive through a journey leading to the destination of graduation ceremonies after a huge investment of hard work by students and teachers and competitions among learners and institutions in the academic circle.
This narrates the fact that wherever there is learning there is examination, wherever there is examination there is graduation and wherever there is graduation there is acknowledgement of success earned by hard work and lessons of the entire struggle behind the knowledge and skill acquisition as a career.
This piece explores my graduation tour which amplifies the activities marking the end of academic term by way of celebrations in different schools within the Lower River Region during the month of May and June.
As I report, these ceremonies are labelled with different names in different places but with similar functions and purpose. The end of academic term even is referred to as Graduation Ceremony, Speech and Price Giving, Passing Out, Send-Off Party, Open-Day among a list by different schools with just the same main reason of conferring graduation awards to outgoing students.
At Nioro Jattaba Junior and Senior Secondary School
My first port of call was at the Nioro Jattaba – Sankandi Junior and Senior Secondary School. The school magnified a reception to the class of a real western setting for a ceremony dubbed as a Send-Off Party.
The Principal of the school, Numo Saidykhan, said the graduation was a moment for them to reflect on their success and at the same time look into the way forward.
What we are witnessing here is precisely the passing out of students in the fields of Art and Commerce who made up the first batch of grade twelve of the school.
He recalled that it was a struggle for the school administration to get a single student to enrol three years ago.
Noting that many of the students never appreciated the idea of being among the first batch of students to the senior school. Thanks to the determination of the staff, different strategies were employed to lure students into the new school despite the hitches here and there. He promises to keep up the management of the school for more successes.
Muhammed Kanuteh of the English Department considered their road to the graduation destination as a rocky one.
Their first difficult experience, he said, was the sudden demise of late Demba Jammeh who championed the transition of the Basic Cycle to a Senior School at a time the road was too new for them.
A moment later, he said, examination malpractice which caused the cancellation of the 2012 General Science paper in the GABECE exams occurred by unknown unscrupulous individual(s). After which several members of the staff and students got into the hands of the police for questioning.
In the most recent moment, he said, was the non-recognition of the school as an examination centre for the 2013 WASSCE examination.
The graduating students had to travel to Kiaf Senior Secondary School under different living conditions in order to sit to their examination.
The guest speaker, Alhagie Jammeh, the Ward Councillor for Kiang Banta who is a retired teacher, spotted smiles in the faces of the grandaunts who he said were acrimonious to be enrolled in the school way back in their grade ten stage.
He pointed out that the school should be recognised as a suitable referral institution for all Junior Secondary or Upper Basic Schools within its catchment area.
Mr Jammeh while describing the students as fit for the world of work also enjoined them to seek and make use of further educational opportunities along the way.
He advised them to be willing to venture into skills related professions and other non-official jobs as far as they can.
“Go in for your chances and ignore the idea of one way job hunting. Do not think that sitting in the office is the only work you need to accept,” he told them.
At Soma Upper Basic School
At Soma Upper Basic School, the event was called an Open-Day and Prize Giving ceremony.
The event attracted a cross section of parents, educationists and their friends from across the region.
In her opening remark, the Principal of the school, Mama Ceesay, recalled that Soma Upper Basic School is among the youngest schools in the region.
She acknowledged and dedicated to her staff the praises which her school secured for “the historic performance of the first batch in GABECE examination in 2012. More than 50% of the students passed”.
Madam Ceesay went on to hail the performance of her able staff and urged the parents also to encourage their children to read hard at home.
Abdoulie Singhateh, Principal of Bureng Basic Cycle and Senior Secondary School, who was the guest speaker, used the event to outline the role of education in nation building.
He referred to education as a property for the construction of development at all levels of human organisation.
According to Mr Singhateh, graduating at the level of grade nine should be a simple stepping stone for the students to vie for higher levels.
While he challenged the learners to take up their studies seriously as pride of the present generation, he also called on the parents to assist the teachers in ensuring attainment of quality education.
Pakalinding Upper Basic School
This school could not live up to its administrative wish of staging its annual graduation ceremony. Students’ hopes were very much low in regards to obtaining a venue to be arranged as grandaunts of the school.
Teacher coordinators of The Peer Health Education and the Voice of the Young Clubs in collaboration with the Information and Technology Club used resources and expertises at their disposal to organise a formal graduation ceremony in the name of their school.
While the school conferred graduating awards to two hundred and twenty-five students, Momodou Sanyang used the opportunity to award certificates to 19 members of the Voice of the Young and 17 members of the IT club.
In awarding 23 Peer Health Educators with Certificates of Merits, Ansumana Camara described them as praiseworthy members of the PUBS family.
“Despite your academic mission, you lived up to expectations,” he said.
Kawsu Jatta, Vice Principal of the School, chose to administer his final official enjoinment to his students by way of wisdom statement.
He urged them to consider taking further actions in relation to their educational goals.
He informed them that with discipline, it will not only be easy for them to achieve success but they would also benefit from the sweat of their own labour.
This was exactly what the chief guest speaker made a topic about.
Amadou Bah, Executive Director of Silicon Institute of Technology and Professional Studies cum founder of Baal’al Foundation, showed up to hit on the importance of social clubs and associations in schools.
He said clubs and societies have always played important roles in schools.
“To be precise, clubs and associations are the most recognised grounds through which students can take active part in the development of their schools.”
According to Mr Bah, membership to clubs and associations are good means for students to experience and develop on their leadership skills while they are young.
Keneba Upper Basic School
The speech and prize-giving ceremony was the first of its kind in the history of the school.
The event obtained rounds of applause from the communities, alumni groups and students who all assembled to pay homage to the development footmarks printed on them by the school.
In his opening remarks, Alhagie M. Dumbuya, Principal of the school, told the gathering that the school has managed to secure evident of success thanks to the calibre of alumni it has around the globe within the fourteen years of its existence.
He stated that the school was built on a very solid academic foundation which makes it rather expected that surprise whenever students produce excellent result from examinations.
He challenged the transiting students to be helpful and supportive of their parents and work on to beautify their images.
The guest speaker of the occasion was Dr Momodou K. Darboe, a Biological Scientist and Senior Researcher at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Keneba.
He centred his speech on career guidance. He said many a time students are faced with problems with regard to choosing a field to study when they go to senior school.
In that regard, he urged the children to pursue the fields of their choice provided that it matches with their potentials. He advised them to make friends that would inspire them rather than lure them into evil.
Demba Jawo, Principal Education Officer at Mansakonko Regional Educational Directorate, praised the teachers at Keneba Upper Basic School for their hard work and commitment to work.
He disclosed that Keneba UBS is highly recognised as a centre of academic excellence in the region and beyond.
Mr Jawo urged the students to nurture their commitments to aim higher in the academic ladder, noting that time has come when a secondary school certificate alone is becoming less regarded in the job market.
In all the schools visited on the various festivities, there is uniformity in the agendas behind the events and the focus projections by the organisers
While all these programmes served as platforms for their school administrations to confer awards on their graduands, students gain chance to showcase their talents as well as salute their teachers and schools for elevating their academic statuses.
Guest speakers shared a common advice for students to go further in search of education.