Grooming learners for corporate world Washington Hills High School student Ivan Craig Jr presents a speech at a dinner event recently
Washington Hills High School student Ivan Craig Jr presents a speech at a dinner event recently

Washington Hills High School student Ivan Craig Jr presents a speech at a dinner event recently

Leroy Dzenga Features Writer
Beyond the classroom content, there is a need to equip learners with skills that open up opportunities for them in the world they are being prepared for. Proper grooming, social skills and etiquette go a long way in positioning people for opportunities.

A couple of schools have been working towards this end, and as a result the visibility of their alumni is proportionally greater than that of learners who attended schools which confine their scope to the classroom.

Creative events, extra-curricular activities and travels usually inculcate these characteristics in learners, exposing them to different cultures and ways of life.

Scenes from the Washington High School Christmas dinner

Scenes from the Washington High School Christmas dinner

Washington Hills, a Harare school, has been trying to instil “higher culture” in its students through initiatives meant to empower them socially. Recently, Paramount Estate, a club at the school, hosted a dinner event meant to engage outgoing learners with the expectations of the corporate world. The school`s headmaster Gideon Sadazi said in preparation for the event, the learners were given space to approach stakeholders on their own.

“If we are honest the event was purely a product of the pupils` inventiveness; all we did was guide them as they hard to put together the dinner,” Sadazi said. Events of that nature also give room for creative students to show their abilities.

“There is a lot of talent that was being shown by these youngsters and they have started creating platforms to showcase themselves to the world. Who knows, they could benefit from these engagements and become leaders in life,” said Sadazi.

The well-knit event attracted people from different walks of life including Acting Provincial Education Director for Mashonaland West, Peter Nedzira and leading agronomist Ivan Craig.

Mashonaland East Acting PED, Peter Nedzira lauded the event acknowledging the importance of incubating creativity within learners. Emphasis was placed on the need for the education system to be set in a way that does not produce redundant learners in an ever changing world.

Learners themselves, understand the significance of reaching out to the corporate world and equipping themselves with skills including events management which has become a profession on its own. Washington Hills High School`s headboy Dieudonne Mhizha spoke on their intention in hosting the event, saying it had measured benefits for the students.

“We are aiming to improve our public relations and social engagement skills so that when we go into the world, we will not have problems attending and organising high profile events,” Mhizha said. There is a belief that if continued, students would be competitive even when they decide to further their studies beyond the borders.

“The idea is to ensure that we stay abreast with world trends, being cultured is as important as any other virtue which contributes to success. Hence, the importance of such activities cannot be underestimated,” Mhizha added. Hope Chifamba, the headgirl, said there are opportunities which come from engaging with the corporates and other established personalities.

“Although we may work hard to get passes here in school, there is need for social grooming to ensure that people will be receptive when you engage them,” she said. Asked on whether taking part in activities that go beyond the classroom affects their school work, Chifamba said they relish the chance to learn how to balance commitments.

A beneficiary of early structured socialisation, National University of Science and Technology SRC President, Pablo Tinashe Chimusoro said it is important to show learners alternative spaces beyond their classrooms. The leadership enthusiast

“What I have realised is that extra-curricular activities with the corporate world expose learners to things they did not deem possible,” Chimusoro said.

Despite the obvious benefits to learners, there has not been much progress on this end because of the high cost involved in organising luncheons, dinners and public lectures, among other things. Influencers have used this opportunity to make money off institutions in return for engagement with learners.

“Most of these events and ideas are expensive to put together and very few schools are willing to meet that sort of expenditure. This explains why they are not too popular among schools despite known benefits,” said Chimusoro.

He added; “There is need for an inclusive idea which removes social events from being a preserve of a few elite schools to being widespread among institutions of different financial capabilities.” However, Chimusoro highlighted that it is not viable to make these social events compulsory as voluntary involvement yields better results.

“It is important to remember that people accept at different speeds and it is like a meal which someone eats because there is a gun to their head, it will not taste as good as a freely consumed one. Learning has to operate in relatively free environments,” the published author said.

Institutions should create environments which enable socialisation, they should simply be supportive of ideas that may, at face value seem divorced from conventional academic activities. Research has shown that learners who have contact with the world have an edge over those who grow confined to the classroom.

According to a 2013 study by renowned educationists Beth Hurst, Randall Wallace and Sarah Nixon titled “The Impact of Social Interaction on Student Learning” the traditional way of teaching learners in a linear way comes short of equipping learners to be compatible with the modern world.

The research states that; “Students who interact with key people in the community and business enjoy a myriad of benefits which include enhanced critical thinking, a variety of perspectives, an effective working environment, ownership of one’s learning, deeper comprehension, and an opportunity to apply the instructional strategies.” It goes on to suggest that their aptitude is enhanced when they engage with people who are considered to be intellectually matured.

“Additionally, through social interaction students expand their knowledge as they discover the importance of activating prior knowledge, monitoring comprehension, and consolidating knowledge through active, robust discussion,” read the study.

The study recognised the importance of creating open and continuous channels of engagement with community leaders. This includes, business people, popular personalities, political leaders and religious among others.

Artificial intelligence seems on its way to taking over a significant chunk of mechanical and formula based jobs, this means there will be a rush for personality sensitive opportunities. It is through efforts of socialisation that learners are prepared for the turbulent future in which relations will be highly valuable and influential.

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