AT face value, having pupils going for lessons 365 days a year erroneously looks like a commendable desire to promote the educational interests of the children. But, sadly, the practice is used as a subtle way to fleece parents of their hard-earned and scarce money by the teachers.
On the other hand, some parents and guardians see it as good riddance as it keeps their meddlesome offspring away from home.
However, if we pause to look at the net effect of the 365-day ‘school calendar’, the results are disastrous.
We must point out at the outset that, at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government banned extra lessons.
Some might like to call them by any other name as a disguise, but class lessons conducted outside the school timetable remain banned.
Regrettably, this ban has been ignored, especially by those running private schools.
Children are seen trotting to their designated centres of learning on Saturdays and Sundays.
The teachers taking these so-called ‘extra lessons’ claim they will be helping the slow learners to catch up and coaching the bright ones to excel.
But, in reality, these teachers will be all out to make a killing from innocent parents of the affected children.
For them, the larger the classes and the more regular the unbroken frequency the better.
At one time, some teachers were reported to be deliberately failing to deliver during ‘normal’ class lessons and forcing their pupils to attend extra lessons to catch up.
So we can see to what extent these unscrupulous teachers will go to line up their pockets.
However, a truism that cannot just be brushed aside is that too much of anything is unhealthy.
The 365-day school calendar denies schoolchildren a chance to equip themselves with social skills and knowledge not available in schools.
It is during normal school holidays that pupils may go to their rural homes and familiarise themselves with domestic animals like sheep, goats, cattle and pigs.
What with the milking, if any of the cows have calves!
This prevents the common absurdity where you come across a Zimbabwean adolescent with no knowledge of animals found all over the country. It is during this time that they unconsciously internalise the value of our land and see for themselves measures taken to ensure healthy growth of crops.
They will grow up to be more than mere eyewitnesses of the weeding, application of fertilisers and all other processes in the growing of different crops. Normal school holidays will give pupils experience in vending or handling cash if their parents have small businesses.
The 365-day school calendar does not give pupils a chance to mix with their peers, play tennis, football, rugby and a variety of other games.
Denying pupils these experiences will see them look like fish out of water when their school days are over.
They won’t be creative enough to be small entrepreneurs, footballers, farmers, actors or musicians. This is because their potential skills/talents were not given the chance to develop during their school-going period.
Having built false belief that having academic subjects forced down their throats 24 hours a day and seven days a week was the passport to finding a good job and having a good living, the harsh realities of life expose them to something else.
They end up idle and frustrated.
But then, as they say, an idle mind is the devil’s playground.
That’s why we are seeing the rise in drug abuse, robberies and all other forms of unfitting behaviour. For parents and guardians, it’s high time you realise how much you are ruining the lives of your children by encouraging teachers to keep your meddlesome children away from you through the 365-day school calendar.