A number of non-academic activities such as those in the fields of music, sports and language, as well as leadership and organizational activities can be a potential means of building a student’s character. In addition, such activities can develop a student’s talents, interests and skills as a way to compete positively in today’s globalization era.
It is a fact that students involved in extracurricular activities not only get better grades but are also more creative than those not involved in such activities. Hence, extracurricular activities have become essential in most high schools in the country, particularly those in big cities like Jakarta.
Much of the reason for introducing such activities to high school students is that they can apply what they learn in their daily lives. Getting involved in activities such as athletics, music and theater as well as participating in school organizations teaches students discipline through drills, exercises and rehearsals.
By being involved in such activities, students gain not only a sense of self-respect but also of self-esteem and confidence.
Sabeum Manurung, a tae kwon do instructor at 67 State Senior High School, said that the martial art had attracted not only male students, but female students as well.kwon do, like other sports, gives students an awareness of healthy living. I have been teaching at the school for more than four years, and I really want to see some of my students become national athletes, or at least athletes representing Jakarta.”
Music, despite schools also including it in the academic curricula, remains one of the most popular extracurricular activities. Sudung Tobing, a grade 10 student at Global Jaya School, enjoys his music classes at the school. He and friends, under the supervision of a tutor, have formed a band. Besides playing both local and foreign songs,band writes our own songs and lyrics,” he said proudly.
Schools with an international curriculum, such international or national plus schools, are becoming increasingly popular owing to the fact that they offer more extracurricular activities than state schools.
Extracurricular activities at these schools are not limited, therefore, to sports, music and the arts. Students can build character through leadership and organizational activities included in the extracurricular program.
Leadership programs are becoming popular among students, like the one offered at Saint Peter’s School Jakarta. Through basic leadership training, starting from Year 10, students are taught managerial skills with the expectation of being able to lead and to be led. Led by a professional facilitator team through activities such as public speaking, problem solving and leadership spirituality, students are guided toward attaining confidence in themselves and learning concern for others.
At international schools like the Jakarta International School (JIS), the British International School and Bina Nusantara (Binus), extracurricular activities like leadership and organizational programs are aimed at giving students better cognizant and creative skills as an important aspect of leadership in an organization. Peer pressure plays an important role during high school days. Hence, students are encouraged to be socially and culturally aware in positioning themselves among others. This is a time when students start contemplating what they learn related to the real world and global issues.
Such programs encourage students to think critically and independently as well as to work collaboratively with others.
Taking extracurricular programs, therefore, should not be an option but a requirement.
The philanthropy activities of visiting an orphanage, distributing clothes and food as well as teaching English to poor communities have become extracurricular activities at some high schools. For Year 11 and 12 students at international high schools, it is a part of the 150-hour philanthropy program, as required by the International Baccalaureate Organization.
An American educational expert, Mary Rombokas, for her thesis High School Extracurricular Activities and College Grades, studied the relationship between school achievement and involvement in extracurricular activities. She indicated a positive long-term result of better character and social skills in students participating in extracurricular activities. Moreover, she discovered that students who did sports obtained higher grade point averages than students who did not do sports.
Furthermore, after questioning 292 college students, Rombokas found a correlation between the extracurricular activities of high school participation and college academic achievement.
She discovered that college students who actively joined extracurricular programs at their high schools were apt to do much better academically.
Text by Aulia Rachmat. Photo courtesy of thesummitprep.org
Published in The Jakarta Post, January 31, 2007.