Letter of the day: Ministry of Education failing our students
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The new school year has reopened the familiar debate on the appropriateness of schools locking out students who report to school late. As an experienced teacher, I have intimate knowledge of the issue and I wish to submit that the debate should be more about how to address the disease called lateness which has been wreaking havoc in our schools and has been seriously impairing the teaching learning process in spite of the Herculean efforts of schools to address the problem.
Apart from isolated cases in which unforeseen circumstances such as a road block or malfunctioning transport that may cause students to be late for school, the problem of lateness stem largely from the wayward behaviour of students who by loitering on the streets in the mornings show a scant regard for school rules. These are students who repeatedly report to school late, often ignoring the pleas of teachers who see them at the bus stops. Needless to say, their indiscipline is also reflected in poor academic performance.
I know of a case recently where the students who failed a particular internal exam at a school were the very ones who reported late for that class every morning. These are the same set of students a few years from now who will make the transition to the world of work with the same attitude and will continue to break not only the rules of their workplaces but those of the land.
Over the years, teachers and school administrators have been implementing various measures including giving students incentives such as gifts, certificates and medals to curb lateness to no avail. I am convinced that a major reason why schools have been unsuccessful in addressing the problem of punctuality among students is that their efforts to deal with this issue are being undermined by the Ministry of Education who tend to side with students without properly investigating the circumstances surrounding the problem.
The recent pronouncement by the Minister of Education in the media cautioning school administration against locking out students is one case in point. The truth is that locking out students is the last resort for most frustrated school administrations who have made numerous futile efforts to help stem the problem of punctuality only to see the problem persisting and even escalating.
INDISCIPLINE CAN'T CONTINUE
Sometimes as in these instances one gets the impression that administrators and teachers are powerless because the Ministry of Education have given students too much power. They seem to have too many rights and no responsibilities as opposed to the teachers. These acts of indiscipline cannot continue as students MUST be made to obey the school rules and they MUST learn that there are consequences for their actions and school teachers and principals MUST take a stand if the schools' principles and standards are to be upheld.
The Ministry of Education should partner with the schools that are suffering from these brazen acts of indiscipline in coming up with viable solutions to the issue of lateness in schools instead of crippling the solutions that the schools have devised to curb a problem that students created. Administrators and teachers are not the problem; the problem is the Ministry of Education!