By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
The issue of extra curriculum activities in schools is not outlandish in the country’s academic programs. Over the years institutions have stressed the compulsory need for each student to partake in some kind of ‘out-of-class’ activities, known as extra curriculum activities, as one of the ways to prepare them for future leadership.
Generally, it is believed that by this means, student would be able to showcase their talents that may eventually prepare them for the future. For some of the schools, this forms part of the registration requirement that each student should select a particular extra curriculum activity before enrolling. Some of these extra activities are sports, music, drama and debate.
As the phrase denotes, it simply means that those are activities outside the curriculum of the school, but that students are allowed to participate as they are also useful in the education and preparedness of students for future challenges. The curriculum contains courses that are offered by institutions, but the phrase denotes those that are not part of the curriculum, but are carried out by the schools as the extra curriculum.
One book defines extra curriculum, with plural, curricular, as activities “not included in the curriculum; not part of the actual course of study.” It further went on to say that it is an activity- an interest or activity pursued by a student, as swimming, football, acting, writing for the school newspaper,(like we say in Liberia, the school press club,) which some of us benefitted from, which is not part of the actual course of study leading to the diploma or degree, but which is regarded as “an active part of student life.”
Over the years, schools in this country have encouraged students to individually and voluntarily decide the kind of extra curriculum activities they want to be a part of. Sometimes it is class competition, or old students against new students. One of the major advantages of these kinds of activities is that it provides the avenue for the school, through its Vice Principal for Students Affairs, to select students to represent the school, whether it is in sporting, debate or music. That is, it is only by these activities that the school can scout out talents for a particular activity for the school’s participation outside of its confines.
But at the Muslim Congress High School on Mechlin Street, Monrovia, the authorities as a way to motivate and encourage students, especially so with the desire to build a strong spirit of competitiveness, the school has divided the student populace into four major colors- Red, Blue, White and Yellow. Since last year, when I became a part of that school’s extra curriculum activity initiated as a patron, along with Atty Losene Bility, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as patrons, I continue to admire the high spirit of competitiveness among the students, as each strive to surpass the other.
Although I am one of the patrons of the Red House, few days ago, when I received an invitation from the BLUE HOUSE to be part of its program, I initially hesitated, but later consented to be a part since this was all about encouraging the students develop and utilize their God-given talents and also to promote extra curriculum activities, of which I an a beneficiary.
At that program, I saw how the students, clad in their blue color, with caps, enthusiastically chanted slogans and executed many activities. As I sat in my seat, I began to reflect on the years back when I was a student. Similarly, when I attended the program of the victorious “RED HOUSE,” I noticed same spirit of competiveness and camaraderie among the students, dressed in their red colors.
Indeed, the idea of the administration of the school, headed by a female, to promote extra curriculum activities in a different way and fashions, is paying off, with students making frantic efforts to exceedingly perform well than the others. Because of the level of competitive spirit among the students, each group strives to have the best indoor and outdoor programs, as it is as known fact that competition always strives to produce the best, and so with this kind of spirit among students, several talents would be spotted.
As stated initially that extra curriculum, though not part of the regular courses of the school, they are important for students because they “an active part of student life.” Therefore, academic institutions should ensure that students fully participate in these extra curriculum activities because they also help to prepare them for the job markets and challenges in the future. School administrators should not only circumscribe to only the regular courses in preparing students for tomorrow, but also these activities.
I am bringing about this because I know of many instances in which students who fully participated in their school’s extra curriculum activities were easily absorbed by institutions for jobs upon graduation. By these activities, schools could produce more players for the various national teams, more public speakers, more musicians, more dramatists and journalists, through the various press clubs of these schools.
Because I am a product of this, I want to encourage our schools, like it is being done by others, to ensure the participation of students in these activities. It may not be the same method as being done by the Muslim Congress High School, it could be through other methods, only to encourage, motivate or inspire students’ participation. Hence, the extra curriculum activities should be treated the same way and manner in which schools with vocational programs treat such programs, in preparing the students for the job market tomorrow.
From my experience over the years and as a former member of the Press Club of D. Twe High School, where I began journalism in 1977, I am a living witness to this. As I end this piece, I know that there are many others who share similar experience who upon graduation “got something to do,” on the job market only because of their participation in their school’s extra curriculum activities. Besides, extra curriculum activities also create avenues for scholarships for “deserving students” to further their education. As you see, I use quotation marks on the phrase, “deserving students” because many of those who receive scholarships do not really merit them. For me, it is unfortunate that we take students’ aid for scholarship.
Today, it is because of my experience in extra curriculum activities that I am using this forum to promote this for our future leaders. Bravo to the administration of the Muslim Congress High School for this new approach to extra curriculum activities.
Until we realize the importance of extra curriculum activities in schools for a better future for our students, I REST MY CASE.