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Extortion in the name of extra classes?

Teachers Living An Exemplary Life In Ghana File Photo

Tue, 8 Aug 2017 Source: Simon Aikins

The season is here again where students are on a long vacation from academic work. Students are happy when this golden opportunity is offered them after a hectic academic year. It is not easy for a pupil to wake up as early as 4am to prepare for school.

For some people who live in remote areas, it is a tall order to avoid traffic and get to school on time to avoid punishment for lateness. So anytime opportunities like a long vacation presents itself, it is grabbed with both hands.

In the past, students are shipped to the countryside by their parents to have a feel of what pertains there. This is where they get the opportunity to meet members of the extended family that they never knew. It also affords them the chance to learn a skill or two like how to set traps, till the land, fish, hunt and above all taught how to appreciate people who are deemed to be the downtrodden and also imbibe in them the customs of a particular society. By the time they leave the village, they are refreshed and equipped beyond academic work.

In this modern era, almost all contacts with activities outside the classroom have been eroded due one extra classes or the other. Social lives of pupils are curtailed because pupils are restricted to the four corners of a classroom from dawn to dusk. Pupils in especially private schools get to school as early as 6am and leave the school premises as late as 7pm. They get home exhausted and cannot do anything for themselves or help with household chores because they have to prepare for the next morning. This vicious cycle is depriving pupils of some level of bonding with family and friends.

During long vacations, private schools especially organise vacation classes for pupils. I believe such times are periods for pupils to take a break from academic work because they have had an energy sapping academic year. Hence, the need to be allowed to have the needed respite. Some schools argue they have to complete the syllabus before their final examinations, but I believe with good planning, teachers worth their salt, and serious students, special classes will just be on the periphery. I am not against extra classes, but my problem is when it drains the energy of the pupils and the pockets of parents. Some private schools charge exorbitant fees which makes it even difficult for all to attend.

This defeats the purpose of completing the syllabus on time because those who could not attend would lose and this draws the class back. Some have also alleged that teachers reserve what they are expected to teach during regular class hours for extra classes. If this is true, then such teachers should be investigated and if found guilty, they should be dealt with ruthlessly.

Some pupils even attend such extra classes just to be noticed or to fill the pews. In institutions where the pupils are not vigilantly monitored , some end up in bad company which results in unwanted pregnancies and other social vices.

Some parents have argued that their absence from home would be detrimental to their wards. So they find solace in extra classes. They may have a point, but I believe that the welfare of your ward should be of paramount interest to any responsible parent. The life of a child should not be traded for anything. They should not forget that the more they send the children away, the more the gap between kids and parents widens. This is not healthy because the children may pick up some bad attitudes which the parents may never discover as a result of their neglect which would in turn come back to hurt them. They must find time to help their children with their work and also be available to monitor what their kids do. After all, the riches they are chasing would be bequeathed to their children when they are no more. What would be more painful than bequeathing your assets to someone who is ill prepared to manage it? Spending time with your kids does not cost a dime.

Private schools should try as much as possible to manage to reduce the burden on pupils. It is true they want them to excel, but if care is not taken, in their quest to maintain the standards of their institution, they may crush the dreams of some which would blot the image of their hard built brand. Money should not push schools into doing things that will endanger the fragile lives of pupils. Rest is necessary and as such it should be observed as and when it becomes necessary.

The Ghana Education Service should hit the ground running by streaminlining the activities of schools. I am confident they know better than I do on the need for pupils to have enough rest. They should not allow private schools extort monies from parents all in the name of extra classes. The next academic year will start very soon. Parents will be buying stationary for their kids and would also be paying school fees. They should not be burdened with any unnecessary bills to pay. The future of our pupils should not be toyed with just because a selected few want to enrich themselves.

Columnist: Simon Aikins