Extra-curricular….one of my most favourite words! Having been brought up in the 8-4-4-system of education when it was first implemented, we often wondered why we were being punished to learn such subjects as home science, woodwork, metalwork, arts and crafts. The projects seemed so difficult at the time. Why make a bamboo flute? Why knit a baby’s sweater? Or why have a plot in a shamba somewhere to grow carrots?
Students are being churned out of a strictly academic conveyor belt!
We are now realising the benefits of what we were learning, after the phasing out of extra-curricular activities in the 8-4-4 system. However,what we are seeing, are the very negative results this absence is having on our children.Now caught up in this lopsided system, where students are being churned out of a strictly academic conveyor belt!
It is important to excel academically, but that is only half the story…
The essence of my discourse here is to express the need for extra-curricular involvement as a requirement, and not an option for a child’s holistic development. Academic achievement has too much emphasis in Kenya. Granted, it is important to excel academically, but that is only half the story… In the global space, one day your very smart (academically) child will be sitting at the admissions desk of Harvard, Yale or Oxford University together with competitors from India, China, Singapore and Finland, and the Admissions Officer will ask what else you have to offer apart from your ‘A’ grade. And therein lies the disaster. The typical Kenyan child will have nothing to show.in addition they will have no experience in anything else.
Children in Finland…go to school up to 2 p.m.
Children in Finland, which I use as my measure of education excellence, as it is the top education systems in the world rankings, go to school up to 2pm. They then engage in sports and other extra-curricular activities by force. It is here where they hone their skills as musicians, artists, designers, chefs, singers, etc. One just has to look at the GDP of the country, the social balance, the low levels of crime, low levels of corruption and so on, to see how this system has worked wonders. The children are well balanced,they use up their energies fully, they have relatively good physical health and they are skilled in so many areas! It is a generally peaceful society.
Read Also: My Mum, the Game Changer by Pepe Minambo
“I don’t talk about my Dad too much. It doesn’t come easily and he doesn’t occupy my thoughts much. I however, mention him in chapter 2 of my first Book ‘Be Inspired before You Expire’ where I share the tragic tale of how he didn’t provide much for us.…” READ MORE HERE
I have had the blessing of seeing the fruits of investing in my own children’s extra-curricular development, having spent several hours sitting by a swimming pool, soccer pitch, at music classes, art classes, etc. Consequently,
the children have exposure to different things and i pray that they will never struggle to look for employment solely on the basis of academic results. Our house has a full wall dedicated to medals and trophies, and the children (or should I say parents) are proud of their achievements 🙂
Our goal is simply exposure, exposure, exposure!
Here in Kenya, I have been working at St George’s Primary School for the last two years. Together with other members of our Alumni Association, we have gone back to the school to give back to the school community. Apart from improving structures and facilities, our main involvement has been through the running of extra-curricular activities. We have managed to run the program using professional volunteers and the results so far have been astounding! Granted that Kenyan public schools have a shortage in resources we have successfully run over 18 clubs for the students.
They look forward to Friday afternoons all week! So far they have had the opportunity to meet with international and local celebrities and professionals,people who are successful because of their skills. Therefore, our goal is simply exposure, exposure, exposure! One day there will be great success stories from these children and they will attest to the seed that we are now planting in them in primary school.
Talents that the individuals found as hobbies…developed into fully fledged businesses
Looking at it from an economic perspective, check out any millionaire or billionaire lists globally. Research on the individuals topping those lists and most likely you will find that they have involvements in sports, music, technology, agriculture, etc. These were talents that the individuals found as hobbies which developed into fully fledged businesses. Additionally somebody somewhere gave them a chance to explore the road less travelled. This is what success is all about.
Get your child exposed
I’d love to be very clear about not misconstruing or underestimating the importance of academics in a child’s development. However,the key point to not forget to balance it out with skills, hobbies and sports must be emphasized! Remember that even the world’s highest paid plastic surgeons had to have been good at home science to be able to sew!Therefore,get your child to have all the exposure you possibly can and they will pleasantly surprise you in the future!