Tue | Jan 31, 2023

Letter of the Day | Better parenting can curb indiscipline among students

Published:Friday | October 7, 2022 | 12:05 AM


I am deeply disturbed by the general indiscipline in schools and, in particular, the stabbing death of a female grade 11 student at Kingston Technical High School. When a child leaves home in the morning, the parents expect them to return home in the afternoon. You cannot imagine that they are going to a killing field, even if the community is one.

In the discussions that I have heard, there were the usual solutions: regular searches, metal detectors, etc. I would like to add another dimension. The Jamaican family system has been in crisis for a long time. Some families are only families in name. There are homes where the family never sits down to have a meal together. This is shocking to me who ate three meals a day with my parents. Only once when I was in second form did I have lunch at school and I told my parents in advance that I wanted to eat with the boys.

I know that the world has changed, but can’t the family have the evening meal together, and, if it is not possible to have one meal per day together, then at least one meal per week. You have often heard that “the family that prays together stays together”. or I humbly say: “the family that eats together stays together”.

I therefore strongly submit the idea of parenting classes. I suppose that some churches already offer these classes or, I hope so. At least one parent can attend these classes before the baby is born. There should be follow-up classes at different stages of the child’s growth – from preparing for the first day at school; preparing for high school; planning for college, university, etc. The logistics would have to be worked out, but the State needs to intervene.

I really didn’t anticipate that there would be so much conflict after two years of virtual learning. I naively felt that the youngsters would be happy to get back to face-to-face classes. The parents would have worked with their children and assured them that “this too shall pass”. However, in too many cases, school is the only place where learning takes places and, apparently, and regrettably, not all children learn at school or go to school to learn. Because some children were not socialised to the idea that the home is also a place of learning, they got caught up with all kinds of non-academic activities during school time. And those irresponsible parents found someone else to blame and started calling out for schools to be reopened before it was safe to do so. Even without internet connectivity, responsible parents would have sought out ways to ensure that their children were learning.

I suppose that the Government still pays for four Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, this policy needs to have some teeth. At one time a banking institution was paying students taking principles of accounts and principles of business. Then they wised up and paid for students getting 70 per cent and above. The Government needs to do a similar thing, although I would say make it 60 per cent and above. My tax dollars go towards this venture.

The Government needs to view this as an investment on which they expect a return. Something ought to be done in cases where students absent themselves from sittings for no good reason.

The Opposition, if the Government were to do this, should give their support.