“It is disturbing that some people see summer camps as an opportunity to make money,” Nabiha Meher Sheikh, a critical thinking and creative writing teacher, says.
Summer camps at a number of schools and institutes are offering an array of courses to supplement the academic, physical and creative learning of school children.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Sheikh said that one should look at not just what courses are being offered but also at the quality of instruction.
“Learning in Pakistan has become a tedious activity,” she said. “Children are often not taught to love learning.”
“Summer camps offering only revision of course work are just pointless,” she said.
Meher said that summer camps should instead offer activities that enhance and supplement learning.
“New generation parents are not fooled by summer camps that are similar to regular school,” she said. “Parents are much more open to new ideas.”
Summer camps should also explore philosophical concepts, she said.
“Children are curious by nature. We should let them explore nature, indulge in the arts and expand their creative skills,” she said.
This summer Faiz Ghar is offering the first Summer Cultural School for children between 5 and 11 years of age and another for those between 12 to 18 years of age.
Faiza Hassan, programmes coordinator at Faiz Ghar, told The Tribune that the camp aimed at letting children develop their non-academic abilities.
“We want to offer children a creative outlet,” she said.
Offering classes on a range of courses; including music, dance, yoga, puppet making and art, the camp prices each between Rs2,000-Rs3,000 with a one-hour class thrice a week.
The camp will be conducted by classical dancer Nighat Chaudhry and art instructor Samer Hashmi.
“It is not expensive at all. We offer quality teaching in a fun learning environment,” Hassan said.
“An ideal summer camps should aim to boost the self confidence by offering children learning activities that are not just academic,” Dr Baela Raza Jamil, programme director at Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) says.
“A summer camp can be a great learning opportunity,” she says.
Dr Jamil says that over 150 government schools are holding summer camps under ITA across the province.
“There are a number of elitist summer camps. What is needed is to use summer camps to impart creative learning oppurtunities to less privileged children,” she said.
She said that citizens in Western countries were demanding that summer camps be sponsored for children hailing from underprivileged backgrounds to provide equal learning opportunities.
The Sanjan Nagar School (SNS), which caters to many children from under-privileged backgrounds, is exploring the concept.
Having offered free summer camps for several years, SNS principal Raheela Akram, said that the camp aimed at allowing children to indulge in creative activities which they are unable to during their school routines.
“We create children’s clubs. There are sports, environment, language and debating clubs,” she said.
Parents like it because it is free, she said.
Saad Tariq, CEO of The Knowledge Factory (TKF), said around 20 children participated in their camp; which cost Rs5,000 per course, with a package of seven activities for Rs20,000.
“The camp offered learning, thinking skills and personal skills,” he said. “We hired professional trainers to teach children skills not frequently taught in schools,” he said.
The cost of the camp depends on the target audience and the specialised courses on offer, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.
More in PunjabIndian prisoner released after nine-month delay