Stressed, tired, that’s our children

Author: Angella Nampewo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Children are going to weekend classes and studying till late. All this seems to be accepted without question by the parents and communities concerned.

One really early morning spent outside my usual place of abode brought to my doorstep something I had only heard about in rumours. At a nearby school, I heard children responding in unison to instruction in a classroom lesson at 5am. I heard them at that time but it is possible and likely the lesson had started earlier. 

In previous discussions with teachers, school van drivers and parents, I had gathered that children were heading out to schools earlier, following this January’s reopening. The justification is that there is a lot of ground to cover, with limited time to complete the set content. 

Children are going to weekend classes and studying till late. All this seems to be accepted without question by the parents and communities concerned. It is only in the odd case such as when a bunch of strangers turn up in an area that someone finds it odd that children are reciting multiplication tables at 5am. 

Which begs the question, if class starts at 4 or 5am for these little ones, when do the day’s lessons finish? In one case, a teacher confessed that they give extra evening classes to their day scholars who cannot arrive at 5am. To compensate for this, the day students are given lessons that stretch until 7pm. 

Now that weekend study is also a matter of fact across the spectrum, it is goodbye to leisure time and extracurricular activities as children sink their teeth into the extra courses on this vast daily academic offering. 

Now it is understandable that this detrimental trend of over teaching might be hard to police and that after two years of school closure, the vast majority of us are simply grateful that schools opened and teachers showed up to work, that we feel it would be sacrilegious to even comment on their methods, but come on! If I hadn’t heard that 5am lesson with my own ears, I would still believe the whole thing to be a tall tale. 

These children probably woke up at 4am or earlier. Goodness knows if they travelled from home to reach school at this ungodly hour. I know from a shuttle driver that some children are picked up at 4am. God bless the parents who let their offspring travel to school at that time. 

I have even heard arguments in support of the practice. Whatever we seem to be chasing, may the almighty deliver it so that the nation’s children can go back to living normal lives. 

If it is about trying to beat the traffic jam, why not enroll your child in a nearby school where they can even walk? 

Yes, I hear you all protesting that no schools of a decent standard are to be found in your neighbourhood. I have heard the argument countless times and upon examination, it often doesn’t hold up. 

And if there are no good schools near you, perhaps this is something the community needs to fix. And what is this terribly high education standard that we chase so relentlessly supposed to deliver for our children? Do we even know?

This practice of children leaving for school at odd hours did not start yesterday and I don’t expect it will end tomorrow. However, the pandemic has given the overly ambitious schoolteachers a reason to scale up the madness. 

I don’t expect that we can even police it away tomorrow, short of introducing some sort of school curfew. But parents need to do some soul searching. Is this the start we want to give the nation’s children and where are the benefits in this excessive teaching?

Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant