Oct 8, 2012, 10:41 AM
In less than four weeks from now, schools will break up for the long summer holiday that lasts for at least eight weeks. It is one of the three school official holidays. The others being the first term break (Christmas holiday) and the second term holiday (Easter holiday). The summer holiday is special on more counts than one. One, it is longest school holiday. Two, it coincides with the farming season. As a result, many students support their parents on the farm during the holiday. Three, many students, whose parents can afford it, travel abroad to unwind. But for the majority who neither work on the farm nor travel abroad, there are a lot of other activities lined up to while away the time.
One such activity is the summer school. This is common among schools in the Greater Banjul Area. The practice is for students to be released for about three weeks and then recalled to start usually a four-week crash programme on core subjects such as English language, mathematics, and science. The programme usually winds up a week or so before the new academic session begins. The rationale is to keep students busy during the holiday so that they do not get into mischief due to idleness. It also affords the participating students an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of what they have already learnt and then prepares them for the challenges that going to a higher class of study will pose for them. For the students in their terminal year, the programme is known to have stood them in good stead in preparing them for their final examinations. In this sense, it is a worthwhile venture.
Paradoxically, the merit of the summer school is also its demerit. There is too much emphasis on academic activities during the summer school. The goal of education should be an all round development of the individual. When there is undue emphasis on the intellect, there is a tendency that the educational system will end up producing maladjusted individuals who can barely cope with other challenges of life. The social and physical aspects of the students should also be given due attention as well as their leadership potential.
In addition to studying, the summer school programme should be divided up into various segments that will lead to the full development of the students in every way. There should be recreational activities such as drama, dance competitions, and other artistic activities like woodwork, arts and crafts etc. The students should be taken on an excursion to historical sites around the country. There should even be an opportunity for role reversal where boys for instance will be taught how to cook and do other domestic chores.
These activities would refresh the students even more and put them in a better frame of mind to tackle their studies with greater vigour. In making this modest proposal, we bear in mind the saying that all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.
"To live for a time close to great minds is the best kind of education".
Buchan, John (1875-1940)