I AM disappointed with the approach of Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh to the unfortunate situation at Cunupia Secondary School.
School violence is on the rise and a flawed approach from the top is not only damaging to teachers but to the pupils' concept of authority.
Firstly, absenteeism among the teachers should not be viewed as a cause but an effect. What exactly could a teacher (or anyone) do to warrant having a piece of furniture thrown at them? Absenteeism is a symptom of a disease the minister failed to investigate: crime. Is an assault any less wrong because it is perpetrated by a minor? Fix the health and safety issues and teachers will return to classes.
Secondly, teachers who stay away for health and safety reasons are protected by law. I have heard and seen situations where children throw furniture, carry knives and litter classrooms to the point of generating cockroach and maggot-infestation.
Thirdly, the message is seen and heard by those little eyes and ears that are always watching and listening when the teacher is blamed for their poor choices. Do we want to teach our children that the blame game is what they should play? Or do we want to teach them to take responsibility for their actions?
By staying away from classes in a dangerous situation, I can see how teachers may be teaching their young charges to value themselves and to take a stance against violence and wrong-doing.
I am not at all sure what the minister intends to teach by berating teachers on a PA system that could be heard in nearby homes. I am also not sure what the recent distribution of free drawing books with the minister's picture on the cover is meant to teach. Are these the approaches of a professional who deserves his position of authority?