Summer centers and success requirements [Archives:2008/1180/Opinion]

August 11 2008

Najla Al-Baadani
As the school year ends and the summer vocation begins, we usually heard and read statements and invitations by several officials in the various ministries and other government agencies calling male and female students to immediately join summer centers.

They also appeal to students' parents to encourage their sons and daughters to join such centers, which were established to offer multiple activities and functions, believed to be of high value to male and female students. These centers help students avoid the pains of leisure and lengthy vacation.

Afterward, we see consecutive statements and meetings praising the great success these centers achieved, thanks to positive interaction and response on the students' part. Student's enthusiasm to join such centers reflects their care to benefit from such camps in the various areas.

However, there are some centers, which we usually visit and see what happens in them, as well as how their affairs are administered by those responsible and how many male and female students are enrolled in such centers. We also know the invisible reasons behind establishment of the numerous summer centers and students' turnout to them. A clear example in support of this is provided below.

One week ago, I made a surprise visit to a girls' school to view any activities and functions taking place there. And, as my visit was not expected, nor did I communicated with the school principal in advance, I found that the school is empty with the exception of some girls playing volleyball in its yard.

The teacher in charge of supervising the game found no justification to indicate why there are no many girls in the school. Therefore, she told me that the principal has taken girls in an entertainment journey with her as part of the center's program.

Having asked one of those girls, who were outside the school, about the number of participants in the camp and the relevant activities, she innocently replied that she doesn't know, adding that principal told her to come in the early morning to play with her classmates and go home at noon.

The case is similar in the Boys Center, located in the vicinity of the school. The center is closed and the main reason behind that is related to the numerous problems faced by the schoolmaster. This case was found in a city. Therefore, there is no need to talk about centers of remote areas were residents complain of shortage in public services and lack government attention toward them. These residents complain of a lack of basic necessities and recreation tools.

Ministries of youth & sport, education, endowment & religious guidance, technical education and culture prepared a complete program and plan sometime earlier in order to help these centers achieve success. These ministries provided millions of riyals for the sake of making work in these centers a success.

In fact, some centers are established as required. All of us know well what a summer vacation means for male and female students and how they wait for it with tolerance and patience. These students count days and nights until they leave school, dreaming of spending a joyful vacation and taking a rest for months.

So, what are the motives that encouraged them to return to school to attend summer centers? And does the term 'Summer Center' convince them to return back to school during their vacation? The answer will be surly 'no'. The relevant government agencies are recommended to make use of the available money for organizing useful activities in sporting centers throughout the year.