BY NICHOLAS OPOLOT
Typically, my new timetable for LLB3 has been the most inconvenient since my arrival here as a new student. For the most part, I have to attend class from 8am to 7pm for three days straight a week.
I am quite surprised because Uganda Christian University boasts of many amenities that enable recreational use.
However, the timetable and academic curriculum structures disfavour students from participating in extra-curricular activities apart from those required to earn a degree. These may include hobbies and social, sports, cultural, or religious activities.
Research has shown that extra-curricular activities (ECAs) enrich students’ experience, develop students with extra skills, help them cope with stress, and provide them with added advantages to increase their employability.
Clearly, I have been subjected to study for an average of 11 hours with barely time to participate in any co-curricular activities. This is not much different from other students who share a mutual concern in studying for longer hours.
This has created intellectually overstuffed students who are socially impotent to engage their abilities to their maximum potential. In reality, the system here has created socially flawed intellectuals whose contribution to society is limited to merely paper proposals.
While it’s important to pursue excellence through studies, it’s also critical for students to participate in extra-curricular activities. This helps them achieve an understanding of what lies outside their classroom experience. And there is life outside the classroom!
Unfortunately, students have been deprived of extra skills development which ought to be embedded in their learning programmes so as to put that knowledge to use. Students can use these co-curricular activities to meaningfully shape their future.
In an era with tremendous changing trends which are competitive in the employment sector, having just a mere degree won’t cut it. So the question is, how do universities broaden their curricula to create opportunities for students to engage in more practical extra-curricular activities?
Universities such as UCU have the obligation to promote more benefits which attract students to thrive not only academically but socially and beyond their calling.
The University should strive to provide a refreshing and transformative experience through which students can position themselves for timely opportunities which places them in varied roles to undertake in their future endeavours.
There is need to recognize the value and significance of the academic curriculum along with extra-curricular activities in developing the range and skills set for graduates.
The weakness in UCU’s colonial curriculum is that it doesn’t enable students to develop their relevant subject knowledge, academic literacy and a range of complementary abilities which in this regard includes co-curricular activities.
What’s really more important is that these activities are effective for class study because of the holistic experience gained. It leads to professional career and personal development.
Besides my law studies, I work part-time as a journalist, salesman, researcher and photographer, among others. During my leisure, I get to jog, workout and play badminton. All this has been possible because of my balance between work and studies. However, this all stands to waste if I spend all day in class compared to my colleagues in other universities that have flexible study schedules.
In my opinion, students must be accorded ample opportunity to do volunteer work, entrepreneurial start-up incubation schemes, clubs and societies, besides their class schedules.
These activities help students to seize opportunity and make sense of their responsibility for their future.
Gone are the days when education was a rite of passage for those who were just pedestrian passengers in this academic journey. One must now show proof of academic validation which sounds more convincing if you have had co-curricular exposure beyond the classroom “glass bubble” which is a limiting experience.
ECAs are also important for higher education institutions and form a part of their public image, adding to their prestige and reputation. ECAs can serve a double purpose by offering a means of stress management and serving as an informal teaching tool for the development of generic/employability skills.
Therefore, co-curricular activities must be re-defined and assessed in Uganda Christian University since they remain an integral element of the learning process. Adapting to this tool of academic assessment helps to increase output – offering the skills and values necessary for a learner’s development. The University is losing sight of its motto: a complete education for a complete person.
BY NICHOLAS OPOLOT