The long holiday commonly called long vacation is here again. Usually, parents and guardians, especially those whose schedules are tight, are confused about how to engage their children or wards. The confusion is profound when viewed against the fact that when young minds are not put into use, they become the devil’s workshop.
In the last few months, just before the long vacation, parents had passed through a nightmare. The specter of the long holidays haunted their days. Now it is over and the seeming relief it has brought them has come to be something else, not a nightmare, but a problem. How indeed will the children pass the long, long vacation? Send them on summer classes or for skill acquisition?
Some persons think that long vacation is a period when children should rest their brains after a stressful school year. For these ones, they believe it will be too tasking to enroll the children in vacation classes, and that such over-indulgence in academics has some side effects on the children.
I agree. I don’t hold the view that children should be over-tasked by being sent on regular classes during the vacation period. Their brains need some rest.
However, in the alternative, they should be introduced to skill acquisition programmes that could complement their academic knowledge.
Many parents are ignorant of the invaluableness of skills. Skills would enable children utilize their hands effectively and create an awareness and stir a passion in them for handicraft which might lead to lucrative business.
It is said that some of the students do nothing during vacation. Rather, they drink the cup of idleness. They do nothing but lazy about, loiter and lounge. For these students, life has suddenly come to a standstill. They are nobody’s slave. They wake up from sleep at their leisure and go to bed when it pleases them. Some spend their time in careless gossip, while others indulge in laziness and enjoy its luxury like a pampered prince, and waste hours like extravagant kings.
Indeed, students should use their time effectively during the long vacation to avoid being used to promote negative activities. It has been proved that some of the dangerous crimes committed during vacation periods are perpetrated by idle students. This underscores the need for them to be engaged effectively. Besides skill acquisition, students could engage in sporting activities or even traveling and other viable endeavours.
Life is not all about making money. There is joy and excitement in seeing one being able to work with one’s hands. If children on long vacation are thought skills, some of them may end up being good cooks, while others may sew, knit beads, bake cake, dress hair and a lot more skills.
Education is not limited to the acquisition of book knowledge only, it also includes learning skills. To this end, I suggest that our education planners have to include skill acquisition in our education curriculum at all levels. The long vacation period, in my opinion, offers this opportunity.
In Ghana, for instance, every student is taught basic handicraft skills. In the end, the student decides whether to further with handicraft training or not. Some of them take to skill-related businesses after their formal educational training. And many of them have realised that skill acquisition pays because it enables them to be self-employed.
The responsibility of ensuring that our students do not waste the long vacation rests not only on the government, but on all of us. Churches and private organisations could establish skill acquisition centres as part of their contribution to the reduction of societal vices that plague our society.
It is time for the government and opinion leaders to sensitise our youths, particularly students, on the need to utilise every opportunity they have to acquire skills. Campaigns should be championed to educate them on this need for self-reliance. Such a development will assist tremendously in reducing the crime wave as most of the perpetrators will be positively engaged.
Beyond the acquisition of conventional skills, students on holidays could consider skill acquisition in information technology. The low level of skill acquisition in that sector is unimpressive and a source of worry for all. There is need to develop the nation’s technical brain power in information technology. This will lead to accelerated economic growth.
But the issue of skill acquisition for students goes beyond its utilisation as pass time. What is worth doing is what doing well, they say. And so students should be ready to learn skills and make them permanent occupations if they desire.