24 August 2016

Africa: Juggling Academics and Work

Photo: Lydia Atieno/The New Times
University students in a lecture. Many students at this level work and study.
analysis

Whether out of pressure to upgrade in a bid to secure one's job or grow in the ranks, or the sheer desire to acquire additional skills, many people have to deal with the reality of juggling school and work.

But students who have chosen to work while at the same time pursuing their studies should keep the mantra 'time is an irreplaceable asset' into consideration, if they are to have any chance at excelling in both areas.

For 22-year-old Samantha Uwase, pursuing studies in finance at the School of Finance and Banking (SFB), Kigali, and also employed with New Hope Electronics, she finds it easy to juggle the two.

"It's all about having principles in life. As for my case, to balance my time for my studies and work, I enrolled for evening studies so that I am able to work during the day," she says.

On being a successful employee, Uwase says she associates closely with her older workmates, who advise and tip her on how to remain on course.

For that reason, she finds working while studying more beneficial as it challenges her think harder, while at the same time gaining the necessary experience in the corporate world.

Educators share tips

According to educators, when one has committed to purse both calling simultaneously, the burden of responsibility is upon them to come up with strategies that will enable them succeeding in the two areas.

Joyce Kirabo, a Kigali-based counsellor, says the way one spends their time determines what they will accomplish and how they will spend the rest of their life.

"These two careers demand a sense of urgency, most importantly with regard to one's studies. For instance, many things can be achieved when you give learning priority. However, in the case where one needs certain jobs to make ends meet, it's of importance to work out a formula that will enable them achieve on both fronts," explains Kirabo.

She notes that working students should be ready to use a planner to capture study and work schedules in order to plan better.

"Having a planner is important as it helps one to be organised. For instance, it will help you to make sure all your school materials are kept together for easy access, which boosts one's time management," Kirabo says.

Paul Swagga, an English instructor at Akilah Institute for Women, says if one chooses to work while schooling, they have to sacrifice social events like hanging out with friends and family members, as well as attending parties, in order to get ample time for studies.

It also requires one to be a good time manager both at the workplace and school to avoid becoming inefficient as a result of pressure from either side, he adds.

Benjamin Butare, a teacher at GS Rugando, says the case doesn't only affect university students, but also some high school students also work during holydays.

He explains that, to some extent, if parents aren't careful this may affect their children's performance, especially if the students are set to resume for the third term.

"Giving such students enough time to do homework and revise well is key because during this period, they need to work hard academically since it's the time they are preparing to move to the next level," he says.

Butare advises that during holidays students should play their favourable games as these help refresh their mind, making them more prepared for the coming term.

How to overcome the challenges

Didace Ntambara, the guild president of University of Rwanda's College of Education, says working students always face challenges, but with good guidance from their tutors, it's easy to sail through the two fields.

"If one chooses to work as they study simply to gain experience, it would be better for them to look for jobs that are related to what they are pursuing," he says.

"Teachers or tutors should help such students to make sure they utilise that time well, for instance, by finishing up all daily assignments to avoid pressure while at work," he adds.

However, Swagga believes that times have changed whereby it's common for students to work as they study, and what matters is how to balance the two effectively.

"In order to reconcile the two, working during the day while going for classes over the weekends and evening is better. This will enable them to raise money for either their tuition or upkeep. On the other hand, if they have a tight schedule at the workplace, the best way to handle it is by committing themselves with studies during the weekends," he says.

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