Columnists Features

Recognising former students’ achievements vital

KAMBILIMA

TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA
A SCHOOL’S recognition and celebration of past students’ achievements can benefit its current students. I am proud to say I attended Kakoso Primary School, Chililabombwe Secondary School, Solwezi College of Education and Zambian Open University.
When I go through profiles I discover many successful people who have attended these schools over the years: Chililabombwe member of Parliament and chief whip Richard Musukwa, Luanshya mayor Nathan Chanda and many others have been to the schools mentioned.
But are former students’ associations being supported in Zambia? I believe for alumni associations to thrive and to be effective, they need a special environment. The ingredients of this environment comprise a supportive principal or head teacher and a number of active former pupils who make themselves relevant to the school. I believe alumni associations can help maintain the place of the school in the community.
Schools must use jubilee celebrations as a magnet for present and past pupils to merge. Imagine President Edgar Lungu going to have tea at his former school in Kitwe with the present pupils serving him food and escorting him as a past student. What a day it would be to see the managing editor of Zambia daily Mail having lunch with current pupils at his former school and share a talk with them.
It seems former student associations allow pupils not only to look back and reflect on the past, but also to look forward to becoming a part of the association itself. Although defined by bygone schooldays, these associations exist in the present. Indeed, a school alumni’s presence also serves to benefit the existing pupils, allowing them to aspire to the success of former students. This is often done tangibly, through the presentation of awards.
Are schools recognising former students who have contributed to their schools? For many schools, the connection goes both ways, with recognition granted to former students who have gone on to achieve great things. Schools can set up a prize for an outstanding ‘old girl or boy award’. We must have former students returning to the college or school to tell their story, share their experience, wisdom, and provide motivation to our present students to achieve success.
The school’s top academic scholars have the opportunity to be mentored by successful former pupils who have gone on and have achieved success in their chosen field. Similarly, schools must come up with a mentoring programme, allowing current students to learn and be inspired by former students. Former pupils do not need to labour stories of past pupils and their achievements, but introduce them on relevant occasions.
These pupils are more likely to be receptive to former pupils telling of previous students at suitable times. Schools should be keen to establish ways and traditions of celebrating the success of former students to motivate current pupils to work hard while at school.
Who knows what today’s students will go on to achieve? It is in a school’s best interest to recognise these achievements and feed them back into the school, so that pupils can learn a lot from former students and be motivated to become achievers. May God bless all former students who are today doing well in their various careers.
The author is a former Zambian Open University student.

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