Opinions Thu, 11 Aug 2016

Is vacation relevant any longer in Ghana

Education is made of formal education and informal education. The formal education uses a structured instructional method, where there is a building for learning, a well planned time table which guides learning processes, well trained instructors who direct the learning processes within a period set for a specific learning objective.

At the end of the learning period, learners are supposed to be tested on what they have so far learnt within the learning period. The learners are then given a break period, which is termed as vacation.

Vacation is meant for the learners to relax and refresh their minds from the cumbersome and bulky nature of the formal education. However, the vacation offers the learners ample time to engage in informal education. Informal education is the process of acquiring knowledge through the socialization of the learner’s environment, without any specific structured instructional methods.

In this type of education, parents are supposed to play a pivotal role in the learning process, so that the learner would be morally upright, conversant with household chores, learn some trade and most importantly, be accepted into the society in which he/she find him/her self and the world at large.

The formal education and the informal education are both essential in the development of total human being. These days, parents are gradually pushing their responsibilities of offering the informal education to teachers, who keep on offering the formal education to the learners.

Teachers also refuse to advise the parents on the essence of the informal education (i.e. during vacation) because they take it as another source of revenue generation. The learners who do not take part in the vacation classes roam about aimlessly or stick to the television set, watching one programme or the other. All these render the vacation irrelevant.

In Ghana, there are three vacations in the academic calendar. The first one falls between December and January, which offers the learners the opportunity to celebrate the Christmas festivity. The second one falls between March and April, which also gives chance for the celebration of the Easter festivity. The third vacation is between July and September, which is normally termed as the long vacation.

When we were growing up in the early 80’s, our relatives in the village would come and join us for the celebration of the Christmas and Easter festivities. We would visit places like zoo, Museums, Centre for National Culture and other important places. We in the city, would also visit our grandparents at the village during the third term vacation.

At the village, we would visit the farm with the village folks to familiarize ourselves with cultivation of crops and other farming activities, visit the palace to learn about cultural practices, traditional methods of settling disputes and even how to talk in public.

Our grandparents would also teach us the household chore, especially, how to prepare local dishes. On a vacation where we would not go to the village, our grandfather, who was a carpenter, would take us to his carpentry shop everyday of the vacation, where we would learn some carpentry skills.

By the end of the vacation, we would either be able to hold a hammer, a saw, a chisel or do sandpapering. The vacations the period offered us great opportunity to learn the practical aspects of the things leant in school.

These days, parents who are supposed to engage the learners in the vocational activities are rather pushing these responsibilities to the teachers where they are made to engage in formal education again during the vacation.

As a nation, we need to re-examine the essence of vacation to today’s learners so that they can reap the maximum benefits of the vacation. Government’s educational policies should begin to consider the activities the learners should engage in during the vacation. There could be reintroduction of the vacation employment. This would not only offer the learners with some occupational skills, but also the learners would get some token to defray part of their expenditure when school reopens.

NGO’s and other organizations should take advantage of the vacation to organize programmes for the learners during the vacation. Programmes like mentorship, motivational speaking, excursions and many others could be organized to engage the learners during the vacation.

These could boost the confidence of learners, improve their socialization, increase their ability to talk in public and give them the fair knowledge of the environment in which they find themselves.

Parents should also plan the vacation periods for their wards. Parents who have their own job establishment could make space for the children to work in the outfit. This could assist the parents monitor their wards morally. It would also help the children to learn from their parents’ experiences, should there be need to take over from their parents in the future.

Parents who do not have their own employment outfit could give their wards to apprenticeship in jobs like sowing, carpentry, fitting, hair dressing etc. From these, learners could learn some skills that would assist them in their daily activities.

Instead of the teacher engaging learners during the vacation under the same formal educational system, they could task the learners to write and present what they did during the vacation, when school reopens. This would help improve the writing and presentation skill of learners.

The media should begin to trumpet about the irrelevance of the mass spread of the vacation classes and suggest other means of engagement of learners during the vacation.

Columnist: Moses Fosu-Gyamfi