Utilising the Long Vacation for Community Service, Vocations

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As students continue to enjoy their summer holiday after the academic session, experts have suggested that they spend their time on creative activities like improving their computer literacy, engaging in community service and vocations, among others rather than roaming about and achieving nothing. Funmi Ogundare writes

It is not uncommon to see children playing around during the long holidays after a hectic academic work at school.
For the students, they see the holiday as a period to allow tensions to be emitted and also prepare for the coming term, while some others see it as a season for special bonding for most families, as connections and memories are formed.

The idea is for students to take a rest from schoolwork, and avail themselves the opportunities to engage in recreational activities. School children are thus given a break from the stress and rigours of school academic requirements. Many children usually look forward to this time, as they are able to enjoy their sleep without their parents coming to wake them up early to go to school.

Children, who are still in their formative years, learn a lot from visiting new places, travelling abroad and interacting with people from different backgrounds. During this season, normal activities, especially school, business or work, are suspended or reduced.

For many parents the holiday season, though a temporary one, affords some respite from the hassles of daily school runs, however, the Zonal Coordinator, North Central, National Institute of Cultural Orientation (NICO), Mr. Ohi Ojo argued that the annual long vacation usually poses challenges to parents and guardians who do not think outside the box.

He said there are quite a number of activities that the students can engage in, that will be of immeasurable benefits to them, noting that depending on their age groups and classes, parents should avoid engaging them in strictly academic exercises.

According to him, “ children and youths can be engaged in arts and crafts in organised institutions even in fashion houses. They should learn how to mend clothes, design and sew. With their educational background, they can become fashion entrepreneurs.”

The same also applies for the older ones, as Ojo said, “ there are vocations like plumbing and electrical works that can be of help to them in future, this should be taken in line with their areas of interest. Practical experience helps with the theory learnt in school.”

For those in the tertiary institutions studying courses in linguistics for instance, he said they can take advantage of the holiday to attend institutions of language studies of some foreign countries to master these languages.

“French and German institutions have these facilities. Talking about languages at the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), we organise an annual Nigerian indigenous language programme in all our zones and state offices where the major Nigerian languages and other languages peculiar to the zones are taught. These especially is beneficial to youths whose parents do not speak their mother tongue at home and are desirous to learn.

“In some cases, several youths come from multicultural family set up where both parents speak different languages . The programme affords them the opportunity to learn languages of both parents, so the holiday is not supposed to be a dull moment or a period parents and guardians should dread. Be creative, it is a win-win period to the parents/guardian,” Ojo stressed.

A former Executive Secretary of Lagos State Technical and Vocation Education Board (LASTVEB), Chief Olawumi Gasper opined that rather than stay idle during holidays, the students can go on a visit to their grandparents so that they can learn about family background and values, discipline as well as morals.

Aside just learning moral and family values, he said they can also use the opportunity to learn vocational skills in the neighborhood and volunteer to help out in the community .

“They can improve on their computer literacy, get engaged in volunteerism and look out for activities that would do the community utmost benefit. For instance in the church, mosque or community where they live, they can help with cleaning and sanitation of the environment, painting and doing other minor repairs, among others,” he said, adding that this is what is lacking in our society, as we don’t make ourselves available without waiting for rewards.
“In community services, you can help build a bridge, through the community development area(CDA). It will enrich their Curriculum Vitae(CV) in future.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools Trust Council, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina said, “they should enjoy their holidays. For me they don’t need to wake up early to go to school, they can watch television during the week. I always tell my children if any parent is wise, you have to engage them during the holiday , we don’t want summer lesson all the time.”

She advised parents, to let their children to learn a skill, saying, “skill building is something that is running parallel to education. Let them learn skill like coding, cooking and even going to the market. Let them use their time profitably .

“They may not be going to school, but if you are a child it does not pay to just be sleeping and watching television, It’s a waste of time. There are many days when you don’t have to wake up and run to school for structured work, but learn a skill, it is what I advised parents to do.”

The Director, Omolewu Academy/Bucksman Height , Okeho, Oyo State, Mr. Segun Omolewu said during the holiday period, children in primary to junior secondary school must be kept busy by their parents who should teach them certain domestic work so that when they grow up , they will be useful for themselves.

He said the students on their own, can go over their academic work to discover their weak areas, adding that they can also divide their time between learning basic vocational job and recreation.
For the senior students, he said, “this is the period to say thank you to their parents for paying their school fees, by being useful.”

Aside this, he noted that they could look for a good summer school where they should prepare and brush themselves up where they are weak academically.
“The students can use the rest of the holiday doing recreation and learning a trade. The recreation should be such that can fetch them money for them in future. For instance playing lawn-tennis, football, table-tennis and any other game that they can become a professional in,” the director said

Omolewu noted that the idea of learning a vocation, is to help them when they gain admission into the tertiary institution or after their youth corp service.
“If otherwise they learn vocational trade, for instance, for someone who learns tie and dye in the university or polytechnic, he or she can be helping to dye worn-out jeans for people. They can also be barbing and dressing people’s hair in the university. Beads making will also bring little income for them in the institution. It is a period to prepare for the coming term,” he opined.

A child that is left to be roaming about the street, he noted, would certainly become a tout and become useless to himself, family and the society.
A lecturer in the department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos (LASU), Dr. Tunde Akanni said parents must adjust their routine, noting, “ they should reckon that much more sense of responsibility and commitment to the wellbeing and future of their wards are expected.”

He stressed the need for them to brace up to the challenges of scrutinising their wards records by understanding them more especially to ascertain changes in their conduct.
“Where possible, especially based on proximity and shared religious values, parents should collectively cater for the common needs of our youngsters by providing them with invaluable holiday engagements combining entertainment and didactic values,” Akanni said, adding that parents should also begin to focus on enduring collaborative projects that will add value to their children whether they are on holidays on not.

Parents in buoyant states like Lagos, the lecturer said, can request government both at local and state levels to, as a matter of urgency, realise that free WIFI provision to citizens, especially the youths who are digital natives, is of utmost importance.
“It is the trend around the world and Lagos cannot aspire to be a modern city without this. What other evidence do we need other than the visit of the CEOs of FACEBOOK and Google?”
The President and Chief Executive Officer of Rasmed Publishers Limited, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo stressed the need to get students scheduled for visits to centre of attraction aside just enrolling them for good and affordable summer schools.

“Parents should get their children educative books to read and ensure they are occupied. They can take them along to their offices to learn about one’s trade/business as well as assist, and also get them enrolled to learn a trade. Parents can also ensure they travel to different places to learn new things and know about their environment.”

Sixth Form College, Vital for Successful Varsity Education, Says Ebiai

Mrs. Christiana Ebiai is the Principal of The Regent College, Abuja; a sixth form school recently established by the Regent group of schools. She highlights the essence of sixth form colleges as a bridge between secondary and university education, the uniqueness of the new school, among other issues. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

What informed the introduction of sixth form colleges?

Sixth form colleges are not a new concept. They were preceded by the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) which was later scrapped in Nigeria. This level of education is the tier where students aged between 16 and 18 years prepare for their advanced level examinations. The foundation for university education is laid here and every necessary input for a successful university education overseas is ensured.

The minimum age of admission to study a degree programme in the university is at least 17 years by the third week of September in the year of admission. Hardly do you find year 11 or senior secondary three (SS3) students that are 17. Their average age range is 14-16. You will agree with me that it is a big gamble to release a young child into the world to depend on his own devises because if a child is sent abroad too early, distraction and peer influence can lead to the derailing of such a child.

How ready is the Regent College for this segment of education?

The Regent College is fully prepared for its sixth form. Everything the Regent family of schools undertake is invariably executed excellently. You can very well expect the same measure of excellence. Our faculty is second to none in the industry and every pre-requisite facility has been provided.

What are the distinguishing features of the college?

We have put in place a unique curriculum that caters for the all-round development that will evolve our vision of a globally endowed Nigerian. Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of USA is quoted to have said “men make history and not the other way around. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Our curriculum is constructed to groom leaders that will bring about positive change tomorrow. Our students will imbibe an experiential leadership oriented curriculum that is geared towards building a mind-set of change and the willingness to affect the future of Nigeria positively. Change can only start from an equipped individual. They would know their country and its neighbours and place them in a comparative perspective with the countries they aim to proceed to for studies, to extract workable African solutions for Nigeria. Our college is designed to be an academic think tank for the youth where academics will be pursued at a vertex point but the ideals required for achievement and change will not be left un-touched.

Also the college is accredited by the Cambridge International Examinations for the conduct of Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced Level examinations. We are in partnership and affiliation with the top 5 per cent of world universities for feeder University Foundation Admissions (UFP) in many sought after fields of practice. Our college is also an accredited Universities and Colleges Admissions Service centre (UCAS). We are here to cater to the needs of parents who value good education and are willing to bequeath an excellent academic experience for the future right-standing of their children in their chosen professions.

What steps has the college taken in terms of quality assurance of the programme?

We have put together a carefully selected faculty with the right disposition and passion for students’ achievement who are also skilled in the application of modern educational technology to evolve an excellent and robust citadel of learning. Our faculties are very experienced and acknowledged top achievers in their individual subject areas, as well as the area of our unique curriculum emphasis (leadership). They will challenge the students and broaden their intuitive and cognitive development skills as they bring their individual exciting approaches to the administration and delivery of their subject matter.
In addition to this, our UK partners will compulsorily visit our college for teacher training at least twice a year, the curriculum is the same as the one our partner institutions deliver, the exams are the same, and a marks scheme is provided for uniformity and standardisation between our college and that of our partners. Furthermore, our teachers will visit the UK school now and then for immersion and on-the- job observation and training. All of these serve to replicate the exact same conditions and standards of our partner and affiliate institutions in the UK.

Why it is better for students to do A Level /foundation programmes in Nigeria?

Many parents make the wise choice of having their children attend a sixth form college in Nigeria so they can play a supervisory role in these crucial one or two years leading to university entry. Another advantage for parents is that the fees required to pay in Nigeria would be on the average, about 10 per cent of the fees they would have had to pay for the same quality of education outside the shores of Nigeria and the money they will save in these one-two years can be ploughed back to extend the child’s stay to the master’s level.

With your experience as an educator over the years, what are the challenges faced by private schools in Nigeria?

The United Nations recommends that 26 per cent of a member country’s budget should be allocated to education, but Nigeria consistently falls below this level so the most prominent challenge is shared by the entire education sector, and that is inadequate support. In the 2017 budget for example, only 6 per cent was allocated to this sector. Private educators have had to soldier on without support in spite of the wonderful work achieved in contributing to the development of the future workforce of this country. Mushrooming of schools is a problem that borders on standardisation. This must be seriously looked into by bodies concerned. At the micro level you have so much competition which can be positive as well as negative. Where it is positive, it results in the raising of standards this in turn leads to undue pressure on children to achieve. A balance is necessary.