Don’t ignore that extracurricular activity

Monday June 10 2019

 Students of St Mary’s SS Kitende celebra

Students of St Mary’s SS Kitende celebrate after receiving a trophy as the champions of the COPA Coca Cola tournament last month. Some of the school’s former football players have gone on to play professional football as a career. Photo by George Katongole 

By Desire Mbabaali

Farouk Miya, the Uganda Cranes striker started playing football as a student at St Mary’s SS Kitende. He is a two-time winner with his former school in 2012 and 2013. Miya, who plays for HNK Gorica in Croatia, is remembered for scoring the winning goal as Uganda broke a 39-year jinx to play in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017. His former school is one of the best performers in the COPA Coca Cola tournament that takes place every First Term holiday between secondary schools in the country.

Part of the country’s primary and secondary curriculum are extracurricular activities where students can explore new horizons away from academic. And whereas some may just take this as play time, these activities are a breeding ground for careers and future prospects for these students.

It is this hope that keeps Angel Nanyonga, a Senior Five student at Uganda Martyrs Secondary, Namugongo, alive to her dream of becoming a chess champion. Nayoga shares that: “My passion for chess started as a simple game that I played on the computer. The more I made the moves by just a click, the more I enjoyed playing. I eventually wanted to hold those pawns in my hands and play the real game on the board. With the help of my cousin, and now the school chess games, I was able to learn how to play,” she shares.

Today, as Nanyonga moves the pawns and castles, on a real board, she already feels like a champion. “Not everyone will excel in academics, but also, not everyone will pursue an academic career, and co-curricular activities are thus a credible basis, as one seeks which career to pursue in future,” she notes. Though she has not won any medals, Nanyonga hopes that one day, it will come to pass.

Sense of direction
Furthermore, Geoffrey Lumansi, a parent, emphasises that extracurricular activities are able to give students a sense of direction.
“You can ask a Senior Six leaver what they want to do now that they have left high school, and they have no idea, because school nowadays is more about academics, which is wrong. But if those students had been exposed to other activities, such as music, dance, drama, games and sports, it exposes them to the possibility of turning these into careers.

And they will not be starting from zero, but will carry on their experiences,” Lumansi believes. Hilder Tusasirwe, the head of co-curricular activities at Silver Spoon School, Kibuli, says it is her talent that saw her through school. “In primary school, I was an athlete up to national level and in secondary school, I was on government sponsorship as a netball player, up to university.”

Today, she is the head of co-curricular activities, making a career out of the many hours she enjoyed in co-curricular activities.
She further gives examples of children at her school who are dancers and singers who have gone up to national level competitions, and notes that this kind of exposure and connections they make are important for their future careers.

In addition, the discipline, hard work and endurance that extra-curricular activities require from the participants are all prerequisite in pursuing a career.

Academic excellence
“We have children who play chess and we have so far organised two national chess competitions for primary pupils at national level. These pupils have won the competitions but even in class, these are good performers because chess is a brain game that helps them think and analyse every move, not just in the game but in class as well,” Tusasirwe says.

She also says that the many clubs and societies of co-curricular activities in schools; “Like art and technology, where they are equipped with practical skills such as sewing. We have activities in Home Economics where pupils are taught baking, knitting, that even if the children left school, they would be able to do these things and survive. Personally, my daughter who is in Primary Five came back and asked me to buy requirements for baking, and she baked a very good cake!.”

Confidence
“In debating clubs, we are nurturing and training future public speakers and writers, because this is giving them a great platform to practice and gain confidence,” Tusasirwe says. Self-confidence is the most attractive quality someone can have.

Encourage a child to be part of an extracurricular activity today because some of the big enterprises you see today started out as hobbies of their owners.

Alternatives
We are in an era where some parents will tell you that, ‘I do not mind about the grades my child gets, because not everyone may be excellent in academics but may have interest in co-curricular activities. “So, we have 10 clubs, and offering all those alternatives to children, it gets them exposed and not just for fun, but for the future.

Every Thursday afternoon, we spend time in our different clubs, we would have spent that time in class, but because we know that they benefit from these activities, we spare the time,” Hilder Tusasirwe, the head of co-curricular activities at Silver Spoon School, says.

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