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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who do we blame for the rot?

I REFER to the Starprobe “School of terror” on May 25. The Star should be congratulated for highlighting this issue and has done a social duty where others have failed.

I have been a discipline teacher for the past 25 years and nearing retirement age. I want to share the plight of discipline teachers, hoping that the relevant authorities will take note. I am not asking for an allowance or a promotion but merely to point out what needs to be done to make schools safe for students and teachers.

Discipline in schools is indeed getting bad and no one in the teaching profession will deny this unless they are fortunate enough to teach in selected schools with the best students and getting all the awards and rewards year in, year out.

Based on my experience in dealing with average and below average students, I can say that among the causes for this alarming trend are:

> The concept that every teacher is a discipline teacher is no more practised in schools. Teachers merely teach and do not educate students. Every single discipline problem is passed on to the discipline teacher and administrator to handle. The discipline teacher will have his hands full besides teaching.

Many students have the guts to break the rules right under the teacher’s nose because they know the teacher will just walk past them. In fact, many young teachers don’t even have class control.

> Interference by politicians and big guns is another demoralising factor.

I was once warned by a contractor who claimed to be from a certain political party that if I take disciplinary action against his son, he would get me transferred to a remote area.

Some parents even bring in reporters, lawyers and gangsters to warn teachers and the school administration from taking action.

So many would not want to take the risk.

Discipline teachers are exposed to threatening calls, vandalism, harassment, etc, and thus not many want to be discipline teachers .

> Some school heads are reluctant to take disciplinary action on hardcore students although the discipline teacher has spent time preparing reports to justify the action recommended. Many cases are swept under the carpet.

At times, it is best to expel one or two students who are the ring leaders so that the rest can live in peace but some school heads prefer to be nice.

> In some schools, students with serious disciplinary problems are finally expelled after suspension, counselling, caning, advice, etc.

However, these students are given a second chance to appeal and be placed in another school.

The understanding is that such students should not be allowed to return to their former school but there are cases in which such students do come back to the same school.

Imagine how the teachers feel when this happens. The student walks around like a hero and after that, who in the right mind will dare take action against him no matter what he does?

And to be fair, other students found to have breached rules have to be spared, and that’s when the rot starts.

The State Education Department and District Education Office should play their roles too and be sympathetic towards teachers.

Society is quick to blame the teachers but have they done their part?

How many will complain to their neighbours if their children are involved in wrongdoings?

And how many parents are willing to accept criticism about their children?

We should all get down to work before schools become battlefields.



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