Even though I retired from my last post as a head teacher ten years ago, I am still very interested in what happens in the educational sector. Beyond attending P.T.A meetings of the last school I taught, I pay particular attention to news on disciplinary issues. I blame the falling moral standards of young people in the society on a lot of things; interference of the media or social media is one. Also, I blame the teachers for giving in to pressure from these circles.
It is sad and strange to hear media houses or individuals debating and rebuking punishments metered out to recalcitrant students for breaking school rules. Some of these attacks on teachers are over children being sacked for owing the school fees. But that is an issue for another day.
The work of a teacher simply is to impact knowledge, train the child, instill discipline, punish and prepare the child for life. This is what a parent/ward signs up for when they bring their children to school. Teachers in boarding schools have some responsibilities of parents added to theirs. The school then decides when is a suitable time to sleep, eat and puts restrictions that are in the interest of the student in place. When a student breaks any of these rules, there are punishments for them and these are spelt out in the prospectus given to parents and their children upon admission. Teachers are allowed to use their discretion in some cases and give whatever punishment they deem fit with love. Other times, a disciplinary committee decides which punishment is appropriate.
In the case that has warranted this article, I do not think the punishments are too severe or harsh. Let us dwell on the actions that warrant these punishments rather than the punishments alone. The punishments come to play only when a wrong action is made. In most cases, the wrong action may have been committed a number of times already. Imagine that something bad happens to any of these girls who went to meet their boyfriends at night. The teachers (house mistress/masters and heads of school) will be blamed for not doing a good job.
So, to discipline the child, prevent trouble and cause the child to think of their action and implement the rules, the required punishment is given. “These students are in Form 3 and should not be suspended indefinitely”, social media critics have said. I say, “These students are in Form 3 and should be learning and preparing for exams, not visiting their boyfriends”. It is law that phones are not to be used in schools so till it is repealed, a student should not bring a phone to school let alone request for nude pictures.
Coming back to the point about P.T.A meetings, these days’ parents are too busy to attend these important meetings and will rather chastise and rebuke the school for actions on social media.
P.T.A is a place where actions to be taken in the school are discussed. Parents are given the chance to make suggestions and vote on decisions to be made. If a parent cannot make time to attend this, the least they can do is to read the prospectus and advice their children to stay in line.
Teachers have not been trained to contribute to the indiscipline in the society even though there are some bad nuts who are in – disciplined themselves. So, professional teachers will not look on unconcerned because the child has an exam. School is not all about taking exams but nurturing, teaching and training the child to be an asset to the society; the curricula is not made up of classroom activities alone , as we all know. There is time for religious activity, sports and clean – up.
So before you call teachers names for punishing children, remember that it is their job, they do not intend to cause harm, and don’t pass comments like, “suspension for just visiting their boyfriends?” Think about their ages, the dangers of their action and then you will know that a suspension is cheaper than the possible outcome of their action.