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Opinions of Friday, 9 March 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Promoting Leadership Among Pupils: The Role Of The School

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”.

Though appeared simple and straight forward, this topic demands a lot from the school in producing quality citizens and leaders for our nation. The school has to be strategic in its functions to be able to achieve this goal. Actually, the increasing complexities of life challenges demand that the school goes beyond its traditional focus on Geometry, Arithmetic and Numeracy, for instance, to include other learning experiences on good leadership. Maeve Rich, in an online article titled, Tips for Teaching Leadership says: “Teaching leadership at a young age can help a child to hone her leadership abilities as she grows older”.

The ability to lead is a highly desirable trait. While some children are born leaders, others need some help to be good leaders. The school, made up of teachers and other stakeholders, must support the child to be a good leader. Developing leadership skills in children appears Herculean and time-consuming but could be simple with regular practice, support and motivation. In any case, the school must present model leadership to pupils. It means a bad school can produce a bad student leader and the reverse is the case when the school is good.

The teacher, who is a focal person in the school, needs to exhibit good leadership qualities for pupils to emulate. Skills, such as, observation and identification of challenges, planning, goal setting, budgeting, communication, implementation, recording, monitoring, analysis and deduction, assessment and evaluation are ideal for effective leadership. The school must strive to showcase and to propagate these skills in pupils. Aside of this, there is the need to whip up in the child the spirit of self confidence, creativity, proper reasoning, good interpersonal relationship, self motivation, collaboration and teamwork, negotiation and compromising.

In his feature headlined, Developing Leadership Skills in Children - Tips and Suggestions, Andrew Loh has this to say: “Children who develop leadership in their young age will lead a life of extreme discipline and determination”. One of the secret keys of life success that the school can give to pupils is to train them to be good future leaders.

Helping a pupil to be a good leader is not only beneficial to the child, as a person, but also to the school, society and the nation at large. For pupils to contribute meaningfully to national development, acquisition of good leadership skills is necessary. The school cannot continue to see society go through teething challenges, including poverty, hunger and disease. Cases of armed crime, hooliganism, drug abuse, bribery and corruption, indecent politicking, etc can be nipped in the bud if the child in the classroom today is made more responsible and accountable. Good leadership is key to any society’s survival and progress.

Actually, there are numerous activities or tasks that pupils could be assigned within and outside of the school system to enhance good leadership. The school must appreciate that the bulky nature of work within it cannot be solved satisfactorily by only the teacher. There must be division of labor where the child could also be assigned some tasks. First of all, pupils must be inspired to cultivate the habit of reading. School time tables should not be loaded with only academic subjects. Some allocations should be made for library reading, reading competitions and debates. During these sessions, stories can be told of some great leaders as a motivation to kids.

School authorities should try to inaugurate vetting committees comprising teachers and pupils at the tale end of every academic year to screen interested pupils for some positions in the next year.

Posts like SRC president, compound overseer and section/house prefects should be declared vacant to enable interested persons contest and possibly get elected. The interests of children must be whipped up to allow for more pupils to contest. The school should desist from appointing students as leaders. Others like class prefect, sports prefect and library prefect must also be given attention and importance. During induction ceremonies, the school could invite stakeholders like PTA/SMC executives, assembly member(s), some opinion leaders and the circuit supervisor to grace the occasion. With this, pupils would feel being valued and also get motivated to perform as leaders.

There must be an enabling environment for these leaders to carry out their functions effectively. They should be allowed to conduct assemblies, mete out some low-profile punishments and supervise some assignments. They should be guided on how to monitor, evaluate and report feedbacks to authorities. Children are never too young to develop leadership and communication skills. Though the current educational system appears more academic and examination-based, I still believe with effective strategies and planning, the child can receive proper training on leadership. For us to develop as a nation, we need intelligent, decent and strong leaders and professionals who are in the classroom today.