In recent times, due to the escalating development of the universe, each and every parent has taken the educational success of their wards more serious than ever. This has led most parents to subscribe their children to various activities and programs that would aid in enhancing the academic performance of their children. Some of these desperate parents either enrol their children into after school extra tuition classes or get a private teacher to teach them after school at home.
It is really a fact that none of these programs be it extra class or home tuition is rendered free of charge. Truthfully, most of these services are rendered to the children at very exorbitant prices. It is therefore weighing on parents when after all this effort; their wards continue to perform poorly in their academic dispensation. It is true that some parents even strip their wards off household chores just to afford them enough time needed to attend to their books.
Despite all this parents having the thought of helping their wards to be better equipped for the future through education, most fail to see the kind of damage being meted on the premature brains of their wards. The children have absolutely no time to play and relax their brains. This provides a likelihood of future health problems for the child. Mostly, some of these students who have all the numerous opportunities at their disposal still blow fuse in examinations. When this happens, who then do we blame? Is it that the tuition was ineffective or the child did not take the lesson seriously? Practice makes perfect they say. This only implies that no matter the number of classes and teachers lined-up for a particular child, the rest of the effort solely lies with the pupil. The effort of the teacher is only 30% by some group of people whereas the rest 70% lies with the pupil. Undoubtedly, every pupil still needs assistance to make the set complete. But does that make all this relentless efforts by teachers and parents justified?
The serene nature of one's brain is also a strong value needed for proper learning to take place effectively. Careful observations by some psychologists have revealed that children who have no play time have difficulty associating themselves with other people. Some of them also have difficulty in learning and understanding. This they reveal happens because their brains are under intense pressure than they can bear. It is high time parents start to pay attention to this aspect of their children's development.
Studying in general is not considered a bad thing, but studying too much can lead to serious health problems including stress and social alienation according to HealthLine. Academia International noted that studying too much can actually have the opposite of the intended effort, causing students to become distracted, forget important facts or make mistakes classified as Silly. They also point out that exhaustion and 'burn out' are common. It was also revealed in a research published in the Journal of Experimental Education that students who complete more than 3.1 hours of homework per night experience physical health problems such as depression, sleep deprivation, academic stress and a lack of balance in their lives.
A touching remedy for reducing mental stress is through physical exercise and games. But of late, most schools have embarked on an expedition of substituting playing fields with buildings. Worsening the situation however is how parents of this century have forbidden their wards from engaging in any sports activity either at home or school. Physical education periods on basic school time tables are now being used to study arduous subjects like Science and Mathematics. The same fate has befallen the music and dance periods. The extinction of these mind-refreshing activities has woefully increased the burden on the brains of students. Have we all too soon forgotten the popular saying that all work and no play make Jack a dull boy?
Looking forward, the unwarranted pressure on students to learn without ceasing would have serious ramifications for their future as well as that of our dear country.
It was therefore commendable, the effort made by the former minister of education, Prof. Jean Nana Opoku Agyeman in 2015 to stop the illegal practice of organizing extra classes for students saying "pupils as well as their brains have limits as to what they can absorb". It was however short-lived. She however erred when she said "teachers can cover all the topics in the syllabus within the stipulated teaching hours." It is an undeniable fact that teachers find it very difficult in covering the syllabus before the end of the academic year. They therefore see the extra class time a good opportunity to cover up the gaps. That notwithstanding, their efforts to uphold their end of the deal should not be at the detriment of pupils they are trying to help. This is because their efforts only push students to learn without understanding.
Extra classes also disadvantage the girl child since they either do so little or no household chores. This situation may leave them wanting in their future expeditions especially in their couple living household.
Although the relevance of extra classes cannot be underestimated, there is the need to give the whole idea a second thought of consideration because even before students close at the stipulated time which is 2p.m., there is already undue pressure on their brains and most begin to show signs of fatigue and mental stress.
It is time parents begin to consider the option of giving their wards a break. Their offer of help is causing more harm than good. Nobody can do more than his/her body can allow. The same phenomenon applies to the brain. Once it gets to its limit, no amount of input would yield the much needed results.
There is also the need for the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to take steps towards the restoration of P.E. and Music and Dance into the school curriculum. After all, all students are not academically inclined. Others who fall in the art, music and sports categories should also be given a fair share of the educational fund.
Long live teachers and long live our dear country.
By: Kpedator Elorm, a native of Woe in the Keta Municipality. Teacher, Tokuroano D/A Primary 'A' in the Krachi East District.