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Friday, May 26, 2017

Kids need to relax their brains

Children of Hospital Hill Primary play during breaktime./FILE
Children of Hospital Hill Primary play during breaktime./FILE

The Basic Education Act, 2013, outlaws holiday tuition of any kind and imposes a Sh100,000 fine or one-year imprisonment.

Curriculum implementation entails putting into practice the officially prescribed content within term dates determined by the Education CS annually.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, in consultation with stakeholders, has allocated optimum time to cover prescribed courses of study, syllabuses and subjects at various levels of education.

“This time must be planned for and used effectively to accomplish the teaching and learning task. Allocated time at school is mainly for teaching, learning and assessment. It is for this reason that the school must have a time table which is followed by all teachers. Allocated time also requires that teachers and learners are always punctual for the task of teaching and learning,” according to Kwazulu-Natal KZN Department of Education report entitled, Curriculum Management and Delivery Strategy.

Term dates are informed by various factors, chief of which is the content that students ought to be exposed to. Term dates ensure that the official school hours within any term or school calendar are adequate to expose the learners to the prescribed curriculum.

Holiday tuition, therefore, is nothing but implementing the curriculum beyond the optimal hours or time frame the CS has designated.

Detaining students in school after the end of the term or recalling them before the official opening dates negates the whole idea underlying holiday or breaks that policymakers have designated in an educational system. There are serious constitutional and legal issues around this, particularly when something unfortunate happens to learners or teachers during this period.

School holidays underscore the need for students (and teachers) to maintain a sensible balance between work, rest and recreation. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Students have legitimate interests, outside education, which are connected with their emotional, physical, personality and spiritual growth.

Holiday breaks give them an opportunity to indulge in these interests and hobbies and equally important as part of their growth and development, have time for friends and family and for some, help in the family business or choir.

Educational psychologists assert that learning to be effective is not continuous. Learning is a mentally taxing process. Learners need to be given opportunities to not only assimilate and understand the knowledge they are exposed to in the classroom or the laboratory, but relax their brains. That is why we have short breaks between lessons every weekday. Students need to be fresh, mentally fit and alert for any useful academic performance to take place.

The continuous teaching and learning beyond official schools hours and term dates have no sound educational value.

Education technocrats at Jogoo House and practising teachers have restated that effective teaching can and does take place within the allocated time. They argue that students can gain a lot if teachers were to utilise the allocated time more effectively. They should, for instance, always ensure that they and the learners are always punctual for class.

The institutionalisation of holiday tuition has nothing to do effective tuition but commercialisation. Remove the so-called motivation fees and no principal and teacher will be philanthropic enough to detain or recall students during holiday breaks or outside the official school hours—8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday for 39 weeks a year.

In Legal Notice No 137 of 2003, The Teachers Service Commission Code of Conduct and Ethics Section 15(1) (a) contained a provision to the effect that. “A public officer shall not charge or accept any fee for tuition of a student, even if the tuition is given outside official working hours.”

The Constitution declares that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

The prescribed curriculum is all about the holistic development of the Kenyan child.

The schools' pedagogical, organisational and social environment and interests should serve and not frustrate the best interests of children.


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