Stakeholders differ on take home assignments to pupils, students

Stakeholders in the education sector have expressed divergent views on the take home assignments given to pupils and students by teachers especially in private owned educational institutions.

The stakeholders from the South East Zone, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews, however, maintained different opinions on the issue.

While some school of thought condemned the action of the teachers, another school of thought believed that the exercise would help the school children to appreciate home studies.

Some stakeholders, who opposed to take home assignments, maintained that engaging pupils and students in academic activities at home would deprive the pleasure of resting after school activities.

Those in favour of home work, however, opined that the measure would complement their classroom work and keep them off from ‘gallivanting’ and indulging in unproductive activities.

Mrs Agnes Umeh, a retired civil servant, who opposed take home assignment to school children, said that it was a strategy devised by teachers to shun their responsibilities.

According to her, take home assignments given to children were topics expected to be taught them which the teachers usually evade.

“Some parents end up helping their children to solve the assignments and in most cases, some uneducated parents and guardians end up misleading their children on the home work.

“These children at times come back home from school with five or more assignments on different subjects to be done and submitted the following school day.

“The action affects children’s social development because the time they will use to engage in other non academic after-school activities are invested solving home work leaving them no time to play at home.

“Again, most of the teachers engaged by most private school owners are not trained in education and lack requisite professional skills needed for effective teaching,” Umeh said.

Another respondent, Mr Francis Okah, blamed incessant take home assignments on lack of supervision by appropriate education authorities.

He called for collaboration and effective synergy between government and private school owners to enhance proper monitoring and supervision in schools.

“Many schools especially those owned by private individuals do not have needed resources to employ qualified teachers, hence they resort to engaging quacks who indulge in unwholesome teaching methodology.

“Little home assignments help to keep the children to their toes but because most of the teachers lack teaching skills, they over-burden the children with a lot of take home assignments,” Okah said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Blessing Ibiam, a teacher in one of the public schools in Abakaliki, opined that take home assignments enabled pupils and students develop spirit of industry and hard work that would help them in life.

She added that the take home assignments to children helped parents and guardians get involved in their children’s learning process as well as reduce hours they would use in watching television and engaging in other unproductive frivolities.

“Take home assignments is a necessary academic exercise needed to keep school children busy at home and limit the time they will use to indulge playing around in the house.

“Teachers give home work to their pupils and students to assist them develop the habit of studying to excel in their academic pursuits not to punish them or shy away from duty.

“The initiative also helps parents understand their intellectual capacity as well as bond well with them in teaching and learning process.

“Take home assignments are aspect of the school curricular which enable children to privately engage in after school academic work at home,” Ibiam said.

Mr Stephen Anya argued that the era of digital satellite televisions and internet browsing had ushered in distractions and only way to keep children away from over indulgence in watching television and surfing the internet was to engage them in academic exercise at home.

“We leave in internet and 24 hours digital satellite television service age which can keep the children glued to the television screen and their mobile phones watching series and browsing the internet.

“The home work they bring back from school becomes the antidote needed to keep them a bit away from television and browsing the internet on their mobile devices,” Anya said.

In Abia, some residents of the state also expressed mixed reactions over the practice in some schools, where teachers give pupils difficult take home assignments.

While some blamed the trend on the engagement of unqualified teachers by proprietors of private schools, others attributed it to the unhealthy rivalry among private schools.

According to them, most private schools use curriculum without the corresponding human and material resources to meet the expectations from the curriculum.

A caterer, Mrs Salome Njoku, said the Ministry of Education should ensure strict monitoring of private schools so that teachers would be made to develop lesson notes and plans for every topic.

“This is an effective way to help the teacher to have a good grasp of the subject or topic to be taught in class.

“I am aware that this is one of the strategies being adopted by public schools,” Njoku said.

A housewife, Mrs Mary Frank, said that most private school proprietors in a bid to present their schools as the best, offer subjects that their teachers did not have the capacity to teach effectively.

Frank charged the government to strengthen the implementation of policies to ensure that private schools stopped sacrificing the educational training of the pupils on the altar of competing for recognition.

A civil servant, Mrs Chidinma Ugochukwu, described the practice where teachers give take home assignments they could not solve to pupils as worrisome.

Ugochukwu urged teachers to give take home assignments based on the lessons properly taught in class, saying that the measure would help the child to solve the assignments with little or no assistance.

A businesswoman, Mrs Nma Ezechukwu, narrated her experience where her daughter’s teacher would mark all the answers to the questions in the take home assignments right, including the ones that were incorrect.

Ezechukwu said that the issue of transferring responsibilities to parents through take home assignments was prevalent among teachers from private schools that did not have the resources to engage the services of qualified teachers.

She said that she considered the giving of difficult take home assignments by teachers as a strategy employed by the schools to create an impression that they were using the best curriculum.

Ezechukwu said that teachers in public schools were qualified and experienced, adding that they have the capacity, which helped them to live up to their responsibilities.

She said that it was unfortunate that the same could not be said for teachers in most private schools.

However, a public affairs analyst, Mr Imeremba Imeremba, holds a different view.

Imeremba said it was necessary for parents to view teachers as their partners in the business of training their children and not to consider take home assignments as a ploy by teachers to transfer their responsibilities to them.

“Teachers have the obligation to give assignment on each topic, while parents are expected to guide their wards to do the homework but not doing it themselves.

“Most parents do not even involve their children in doing the take home assignments.

“Some even delegate their maids or siblings living with them to always do the children’s assignments for them, which is very wrong.

A cross section of teachers in Owerri, the Imo capital, are of the opinion that students’ take home assignments are a major part of the academic curriculum.

A teacher and school proprietress at Tendertouch International Academy, Emekuku in Owerri, Mrs Nnenna Ugochukwu, described take home assignments as a ‘major part of the academic curriculum which must not be taken for granted.’

Ugochukwu, who insisted that take home assignments helped students and pupils to remain mentally alert and focused, added that the school curriculum must not be selectively followed.

“When you look at the curriculum, you notice that there is room for take home assignments, and we cannot afford to choose what we like out of the curriculum. Everything contained therein should be followed,” she said.

Also speaking, a retired school principal of Living Foundation Nursery and Primary School, Owerri, Mrs Betty Uwaoma, said a child’s academic upbringing was a collective responsibility of both parents and teachers.

She said that while teachers fulfill their own part of the obligation in school, parents do likewise at home “in line with the provisions of the academic curriculum”.

Also, Mr Emmanuel Okereke, a secondary school teacher, said take home assignments tested the resolve of parents and their level of commitment to the academic welfare of their children.

He advised parents to always ensure that their children did their take home assignments which he said, could form part of the continuous assessment.

Mr Anthony Dike, a parent, however, said that take home assignments offered parents an opportunity to communicate with their children, ascertain their challenges and properly bond with them.

He argued that while some parents might not have time off work to stay with their children, the opportunity presented itself when they returned home with take home assignments.

Also, another teacher, Mrs Amaka Chigozie said that teachers were not abandoning their responsibilities by giving out take home assignments.

According to her, the assignments are a part of the curriculum, not an abandonment of responsibility.

Mrs Christiana Uba, who has taught for 28 years, said that take home assignments made parents worthy stakeholders in the business of education as according to her, it gave them a sense of belonging.

She added that to keep children focused, some parents have hired private lesson teachers to keep them busy hence, the need for take home assignments, which served the same function and are without any extra cost to parents.

Mr Jovita Arazu, Anambra President of the All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) said that teachers gave assignments to their students as part of academic exercise and not to the parents.

Arazu said that students were expected to do their assignments at home independently as a proof of their understanding of what had been taught them in school.

“This is an aspect of teaching skill demonstrated by teachers to avail parents the chance to assess the academic performance of their children and give feedback to teachers.

Arazu, who is also the Principal of Igwebuike Secondary School in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra, said that nothing was wrong in giving assignments to students, but everything was wrong when  parents chose to do the assignment for their children.

Dr  Rose Mbachi, a school proprietress said that teachers could not handle teaching alone as parents should be part of the process.

“The worry today is that the modern day parents do not want to take responsibility,” Mbachi said.

A retired teacher, Ms Nypha Ndigwe, said that government needed to build teachers training schools and increase teachers salary and other welfare packages to build their capacity.

She said that a qualified teacher could not transfer her responsibility to parents of her student because she knew the consequences.

Ndigwe suggested that  government should employ more teachers into government schools, “if not, by 2023, majority of the schools would have no trained teachers but only left with Parent Teachers Association teachers who were paid minimum salaries of N25,000.

She said that to checkmate the transfer of duties that government should extend the year of retirement and service of teachers so as to have long time to teach the students and mentor younger teachers.

Ndigwe said that appointments in education sector should be given to well trained teachers both those in service and retired for efficient service.

She said also said that government should call back some retirees to coach the untrained teachers that were in the field.

“Teaching should be attractive to attract the male folds into the system who will instill discipline into the young students to become responsible youths when they pass out.,” she said.

Miss Mmesoma Chiadikoabi, a student said that take home assignment brought out the creativity in students and allowed them to acquire more knowledge on their own  terms.

Chiadikaobi, however, said that too much of take home assignment was not advisable because the students also needed sometime for themselves.

However, some parents in Enugu State said that most primary and secondary schools were in the habits of giving their pupils and students too much homework, which took away their time that could be spent in physical activities.

An Educationist in Enugu, Mrs Jacintha Nweke, said her worry with take home assignments was the number given to a child in a day.

Nweke, a retired teacher from Comprehensive Secondary School, Amechi, Enugu, said that it should be looked into by education authorities.

Mrs Helen Onyeje, a resident at Uwani, said it was unhealthy for a child to continue writing throughout the day without having a rest or got involved in other activities outside academic work.

“Classroom time is important, playground time is also important. If children are given too much homework, they will not have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning.

A father of two, Mr  Emeka Agu, said that children usually sit long hours in their classrooms and giving them too much homework often extended hours spent in schools.

According to Agu, such long hours spent in schools and during their homework period at home could lead to sedentary lifestyles which could be dangerous to health because it takes away the time for other social activities. (NAN)

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