We in Trinidad and Tobago don’t seem inclined to understand cultural imperialism, tradition and trending impact on human behaviour—so much so that, as a result, particularly undesirable school cultures have been now formed.
My point is that over the years a new culture among our pupils has been emerging. This culture is nurtured by many factors—principals’ leadership in our schools, teacher powerlessness, uninformed Ministry of Education policies and loose school management on one hand; and, on the other, inadequate youth socialisation by the home, school, church, media and the arts.
I go further to say that in many instances, Ministry of Education policies which impact on pupil discipline have helped to make principals and teachers powerless in getting delinquent pupils to suffer the consequences of their errant behaviour.
In many letters and articles to the Express over the years, I have insisted the management of discipline in our schools is a complex process which cannot be addressed by the usual Trinidad and Tobago ad hoc and quick-fix approaches.
Perhaps the time has come for us to sit down and seriously reflect on the nature of the social systems in our schools. Indeed, while we are at it, we should also examine closely our purpose and expectations of schooling.
Is schooling in Trinidad and Tobago designed only for the purpose of certification, or also to produce critical thinkers who will become caring, law-abiding, creative, innovative, patriotic and productive citizens?
What strategies can we use in our schools and general society to achieve this?
Finally, I am convinced our problems stem from the tendency on the part of our politicians to focus too much on scoring points for their respective parties.
Government A will have policies in place during its tenure. As soon as Party B wins the next national election, all of this goes out without consideration of the consequences.
Further, both government and the wider society seem not to understand education is not only about intellectual development. Social, moral and emotional training are critical to the development of any society.
Are we then going to sit idly by and not take action? Will we continue to refuse providing our youths with hope, guidance and inspiration, or will we allow them to sink in the social marsh of depravation, sensuality and barbarism?
Raymond S Hackett