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Are Holiday Classes A Necessary Evil? 

By Sarah Nduma Ekema & Parkis Tah Tangha*

CameroonPostline.com — After studying for more than eight months, one may wonder why pupils and students go on holidays and why they still attend classes during this period. The third term holiday which is the longest in Cameroon has been welcomed with elation for most who send their children to these classes.

To some parents, these classes help them as they are not often at home. Agbor  R. Agbor, a teacher recounts to The Post. “I was against holiday classes before but due to idleness and because parents occupy themselves by going to work, we decided to go ahead with these classes so as to maintain discipline.”

Agbor says these classes benefit teachers who are not paid during holidays and teachers who get into the teaching profession for the first time. “Moreover the close to four months of vacation is very dangerous for students who are slow learners,” Agbor argues. This is because even when parents do assign their children with assignments at home they might not do them due to the fact that they are not often present.

Some students are quite optimistic as concern holiday classes. Julie Mende says, “I attend these classes to improve on my academics by acquiring more knowledge before schools resume.” “I would be slow in understanding if I stayed at home and I have improved mostly in French and English,” says Hermia Agbakansi, a Form Five student.

William Lyonga Ndumbe, a teacher of Government School Buea Town, tells us his mind “holidays are meant so that children can rest. The Minister of Basic Education did not authorise it because it is not legal that is, non-constitutional. Moreover, the organisation is poor, benches are not often sufficient for these children; teaching is not monitored leading to a situation where children are not evaluated that is the absence of report cards. Meanwhile, children can stay at home to learn from their parents; girls could learn cooking as well as boys.”

Some parents teach their kids at home and see no need of sending them for holiday classes. Susan Loke, a teacher at Government School Idenau tells The Post “I teach my children at home maybe parents who send their children to these classes do not have as much time as I do.”

The Southwest Regional Delegate for Secondary Education, Francis Ngundu, emphasised that holidays are meant for rest after the strain students go through during school period, but if children feel bored at home after one month then these classes can be helpful to them because it serves as a change of activity.

He added, “On the part of the teachers, I think their intention is to keep the children busy and equip them with knowledge. This comes when the teachers are trained because poor teachers unteach these children while others do it for their personal gains to have money. Those attending evening classes could say they do not have enough time during school hours that is why they attend classes in the evening but holiday classes. I do not think they are necessary for students.”

Dr. John Nkengla, a counselling psychologist at the University of Buea in the Faculty of Education, said holidays are meant for rest, but during this period, children have to engage themselves in different activities such as music and cookery. According to Dr. Nkengla, through these activities, children could discover different talents buried in them.

“When they attend these classes, they are deprived from learning other things,” said Nkengla.
Life is not all about school work, added Nkengla, “if children do not learn how to cook, wash clothes, go to the farm during normal school hours, then they should do so during holidays, if not, they have one of the shortcomings a human being would have.

Psychologically, the brain needs to rest if children have enough rest, they will begin the new school year with a lot of determination because they know they have relaxed. Every human being functions well if they rest. During the vacation parents should not leave children loose but monitor them with a little emphasis on book work.” On the other hand, Nkengla explained that students who do not perform well in their normal classes, holiday classes remedy the situation.

He said in case where teachers merge these children, for example, classes four, five, six in the same class, they do not teach them very well and at times these children become or leave these classes more confused then where they came, and therefore parents have to be careful.

He concludes that holiday classes should not be recommended except for remedial cases.
Eunice Ndah, a teacher of Bilingual Grammar School, Molyko, also said children need to rest and when the brain is filled with a lot material at their tender ages, when they grow up, their brains will be blocked because of too much material.

According to her, learning some activities like tailoring, hair dressing or going to the farm are preferable during holidays because most of them do not assist their parents during holidays when they attain these classes. Eunice thinks that teachers do it as a means to earn a living since most are lay-private school teachers.

*UB & ASMAC Journalism Students on Internship

First published in The Post print edition No. 1366

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