Though it can not be taken as a substitute to academic studies, co-curricular and extra curricular activities are very essential for the promotion of multidimensional development of students lest the atmosphere of the school environment and academic activities become monotonous. Based on the aforementioned principle, Warsay-Yikealo Secondary School (WYSS), besides being a leading institution for academic studies, has been working beyond the academy to the realization of all-round development of students.
It is an undeniable fact that to produce socially, culturally, physically, and psychologically well-equipped students, teachers and students need to perform various activities; for it is this co-curricular activity of education that enables students to develop in a holistic manner.
In Eritrea co-curricular activity is an integral part of the curriculum. And the objective of the Ministry of Education is to produce students armed with multiple skills. However, many secondary schools have been following educational system that adheres to only transferring academic knowledge.Warsay-Yikealo, as a senior secondary school, accepts students who completed 11th grade studies from 62 secondary schools around the country. Despite the diverse backgrounds of the students, a common ground is created for them during their academic stay in Sawa. Students live as families and share common experiences in every aspect of their lives. They develop healthy sense of cooperation, social skills, and team sprit among them.
All-round development could not be achieved by adhering only to teaching and learning procedures. Co-curricular activities provide many valuable opportunities that could encourage the students towards educational benefits. From a short stay in Sawa, one could understand the significance of such activities in increasing students’ participation in a wide range of activities. On the occasion of the completion of the 2009-2010 academic year, students of WYSS showcased their varied talents through different presentations and performances. Poems were recited; dramas and musical shows were staged, presentations about life in Sawa were also part of the occasion. Observing outstanding students being awarded for their merits in other fields one could realize that participating in extracurricular activities provides the students with values that go beyond academic performance.
Normally one may express concern on whether the students who participate in co-curricular activities gain any benefit from it or that it may be a mere waste of time on things that are not exactly part of the academic studies. However, observing the same students awarded in various fields makes one notice that the outstanding students in academic skills are also better in communicative and cognitive skills than the students who do not participate in co-curricular activities.
Although more emphasis is given to academic skills, extra curricular activities are also given due importance. All programs are evaluated and the best performer is awarded for outstanding achievement. The administration of WYSS also awarded a number of students who exhibited vivid achievements in different fields whether it is academic or extra curricular. For instance, classrooms with highest number students with passing marks, classrooms with distinguishable discipline, students who stood in the top ten ranks as well as students who demonstrated special talents were also awarded.
Debating contest in different topics was also held in which students reflected higher performance in terms of content and raised convincing points. In addition, the students’ mastery of the English language is really remarkable.
Students’ affair is one important unit of the whole educational system in WYSS. This unit functions in counseling and giving guidance to students who need help. It advises students to be aware of their challenges and helps them develop problem-solving skills on top of advocating for their rights.
According to Mr. Kiflay Ademicael, Director of WYSS, the school uses bottom-up management system in which students are also active participants of classroom management. They discuss and set rules that govern them for their own benefits.
Co-curricular activities create conducive atmosphere to conduct various activities beyond the academy. The talents and experiences of students are further reflected in Sawa. It indeed, becomes a laboratory and workshop for the students to experiment other talents. Students who do not notice they are talented in other fields become aware of their talents when participated in a number of co-curricular activities.
Though the students who completed their 12th grade in Sawa cannot all join tertiary education, they have ample opportunities to explore and discover different fields they can excel at. Thus, co-curricular activities could become determining factors for the choices of students’ future vocation.
Time management plays a dominant role in planning and executing programs in the school. It is evident that students need to develop judicious time management skills. A student from WYSS expressed that he learned time management could help him to become punctual and responsible in every aspect of his future activities.
Seminars in various topics have been also conducted in Sawa so as to broaden students’ knowledge on various topics. Co-curricular activities help students in many ways and their significance is vivid in increasing students’ interests in education and other fields as well.