Keith Blake, Ottery
A few days ago I received a phone call from a school in our area and I was asked due to my activist activities and also being a retired police officer to assist with a major problem in relation to Grade 1s who are committing petty crimes, are ill disciplined and in a way terrorising the teachers to the brink of depression.
I visited the school and as I spoke to the secretary, one could almost sense her utter feeling of hopelessness. I decided to request my police station to pay a visit to the school and have a uniformed lecture presented to the Grade 1s which was done. After the presentation, the police officer stated he did his best but he could see for himself that some of these Grade 1s were not listening, but he was not giving up and will be visiting the school again in a few weeks’ time.
I then received a call from the principal and I made a proposal that there should be a meeting between all the parents of these Grade 1s with the school governing body, the almost depressed teachers and the police to relate and inform all of the problem. The school principal stated that most of the parents would not attend the meeting and that all the efforts of the other role-players would be in vain.
As I pondered over this dilemma, I could not help compare the Grade 1’s actions to what some students are doing at our universities, with unrealistic demands and by destroying university property, and a high school where the students, due to disciplinary actions by the school, used the flames to vent their so- called response.
Taking what is happening in some of our schools, from crèche to higher learning institutions, one has to boldly ask who is to blame for this ill discipline. The answer is not hard to find but is in the halls of our Parliament who are the custodians of the Constitution and enforcers of the Bill of Rights in relation to our children. The only amendment not taken into consideration is the rights of the parents and the teachers. When one hears about the rude and criminal behaviour of children in schools, the question is, are the parents coaching and parenting their children at home to become upright students and respect their teachers and their school property. Are parents making contact with schools to become aware of their children’s status regarding respect for the teacher and the codes of their schools.
These days it seems all issues are taken to court and maybe the teachers with their governing bodies should take up discipline procedures on legal grounds to the Constitutional Court.
I now realise after the school informed me of their plight that the teachers can never on their own instill the limited authority they have to have well mannered and disciplined pupils. They need parents because between the two parties they are laying valuable foundations that determine whether the child is going to follow the criminal path or the upstanding citizen path that is every parent’s dream.
To all the parents out there, no matter if your child is in a crèche, in a school or in a university, support them on this educational road that is their only guarantee for a bright future. When they have issues with these institutions, tell them there is much to be gained by raising grievances with pen and paper and in constructive engagements and use the laws of the land and the courts to address their concerns because the match and flame method is an act of criminality and borders on barbarism.