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Jones: Harmonize rules that govern all the schools in SVG

Jones: Harmonize rules that govern all the schools in SVG

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President of the Association of Principals of Secondary Schools Frank Jones is calling for a harmonized approach towards dealing with disciplinary issues in schools.{{more}}

Jones, during an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, commented on the recent issue surrounding the cancellation of Soleil Gonsalves’ Math examination paper, because her cell phone rang in the examination room. Gonsalves, a Girls’ High School (GHS) student and daughter of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, received a 0/60 on the paper for breaching school rules, which state that cell phones are not allowed in examination rooms.

Jones said that he has been listening to, and reading with interest, the several comments and discussions on the issue. While stating that he considers the incident to be rather unfortunate, he added that it does, however, present a golden opportunity for educators and Vincentians to examine current policies and put measures in place to ensure that disciplinary measures taken in schools do not produce “this sort of unnecessary drama.”

Jones, who is the Headmaster of the St. Vincent Grammar School, said no one other than principals can “fathom … the demands of dealing with, and managing a school in this modern era”, adding that the demands will increase.

He stated that real parents look after the interest of their children and will question rules and regulations that affect their children. “I hope they continue this. This is their right.”

He added that students will also continue to present disciplinary challenges.

“I’m not saying that Mrs. (Andrea) Bowman (Headmistress of the GHS) was wrong to do what she did, I’m not saying that the parent was wrong to question, I’m not saying the Ministry was wrong to intervene. What I’m saying is that if we take a different route, then we can avoid the apparent stand off that we had regarding this issue,” Jones said.

Working together to make sure that learning and teaching are maximized and disciplinary problems minimized at schools should be the main goal of parents, teachers and the Ministry of Education, Jones said.

Offering suggestions, Jones said that the rules and regulations of schools should be harmonized. Jones opined that there is too much variation in the punishment given for breaching of rules in schools.

“For example, in some schools, you might find some students being late, they are given detention; in another school, they might be flogged. In the primary schools, we still have teachers raining licks like peas on people’s children. And I have confirmed reports where some students, even females, have been flogged over their backs,” Jones said.

He further suggested that the Ministry of Education collaborate with the Association of the Principals of Secondary Schools and the heads of primary schools to harmonize the rules that govern all the schools. Jones added that rules and regulations will then be relayed to parents and students. He also stated that the establishment of a National Parent/Teacher Association and a revitalization of a National Student Council will also play a role, and to engage both organizations in the efforts to coordinate rules.

“So that everybody in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, once you have a child in school, you will know what the rules and regulations are,” Jones added. Once this route is taken, Jones said, it will minimize ‘these sorts of dramatic events’.

Jones stated that the concept of mutual respect must also be considered and all parties must be in dialogue. He added that though there are harmonized rules and regulations, there will be situations were principals must make a professional judgment. Jones added that our relationships as human beings must also be looked at. “We have too much pulling and tugging. When people ask questions, it is looked at in the wrong way. We’re stepping on each other toes, rather than talking to each other,” Jones said.

Jones said that the Association of Principals of Secondary Schools will have a meeting in August and plans to have a meeting with the Ministry of Education to discuss several issues. Jones emphasized that the relationship between the Ministry of Education and the Association has always been an “excellent, cordial” one. He also wished teachers, students and parents all the best for the new school term.