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Where’s code of conduct for pupils?

 I am in complete agreement with keeping the nation’s children safe. But I fear that with haste and emotions running high there is the potential to make a bad situation worse in the long run. Children are entitled to certain rights but they also need discipline. 

The Education Ministry has sent rules for the teachers but has no code of conduct for pupils. At present pupils are physically attacking other pupils and teachers, destroying school property, disrupting classes, drinking alcohol, smoking and carrying weapons ...the list is endless. 

The ministry’s directive to teachers is they cannot even raise their voices to pupils, or say anything to cause them embarrassment. Teachers are caught in the middle: parents of children who are being bullied or physically attacked say teachers do nothing and teachers have an axe hanging over their heads by the ministry—they will be suspended or dismissed if they do anything. 

Valuable teaching time is wasted dealing with indisciplined students more than anything else. What about the rights of the child who wants to learn? All teachers can do now is record incidents that occur and fill out referral forms for delinquent pupils. Sometimes a year passes before a guidance officer talks to a referred pupil, while that child could continue assaulting others. This procedure has not been successful. 

The lawmakers seem out of touch with how bad things really are. They should stand outside a secondary school at dismissal time  for a dose of reality. If they make it through the afternoon, they would get an idea of what teachers endure on a daily basis. 

During the UNC’s  first term in office in 1995 they abolished corporal punishment. Some 15 years later the nation is in crisis because of that decision. No one can deny the slide in discipline that began after this decision that was supposed to protect the children. When these new regulations are enacted this year what will be the result in the next 15 years, in the year 2029? 

Children are currently being taught that there is no consequence for their actions. They beat up another pupils and nothing happens to them. What lessons are they being taught for when they become adults? What about the rights of the children who are being bullied and physically attacked?

The Ministry of Education must establish a code of conduct for all pupils. Pupils and parents must be made aware and also face consequences if they disobey this code of conduct. We must be very careful of not making another blunder here. The ripple effect will be felt for years to come. Things are bad enough as they are. Protection of children and disciplining of children are two separate things that must not be confused. Both are equally important. Both have to be addressed in the Children’s Act.

E Singh

Caroni

 
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