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Harmonized changes in school rules necessary

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Fri, Aug 12. 2011

Editor: In a recent Searchlight interview, Frank Jones, President of the Secondary Schools’ Principal Association, stimulated the taste buds of the Education fraternity. With vintage diplomacy, the Grammar School headmaster highlighted the need for a harmonized approach towards dealing with disciplinary issues in schools.{{more}} His call for a national parent teacher association and the revitalisation of the national student council emphasises his proactive problem-solving approach.

Indeed, during the dark ages (before education reform), Mr Jones was a staunch proponent for the re-instatement of school-aged mothers into schools. His argument was that each child should be given an equal opportunity to succeed. Pregnancy, though taboo, should not be a deterrent. Time has certainly vindicated Mr Jones’ position, thanks initially to Sister Pat (deceased) who enforced this practice which was reluctantly adopted by a timid Ministry of Education.

The formation of a National Parent/Teacher Association will effect social changes which will impact positively on the Education landscape. Most certainly, it will foster greater parent/teacher respect and improve professional ethics within the profession. As a result, contentious disciplinary issues will be minimal since a harmonized approach will ensure transparency and accountability. In time, a more conducive culture will develop, where learning and teaching will be maximised and ill discipline minimised.

In an era of universal access to secondary school education, a functional national PTA should prioritise equal education in order to engender scholastic equity. Is it fair for some students to pay school fees even after placing in the top 500 Common Entrance passes, while others don’t? Similarly, in this technological era, the system is still burdened with Fred Flintstone-like teachers teaching cyber-space savvy students! Verbal and physical abuse is in abundance as insensitive teachers rain blows and insults on hapless children, permanently shattering their confidence! An effective parent teacher organisation can correct this!

Additionally, if properly structured and supervised, the revitalization of the National Student Council will ensure more responsive student bodies across the state. I speak with authority on this issue since the formation of the National Student Council (NSC) was initiated in the early 1990’s by Israel Bruce and Collin Haywood, teachers of the North Union Secondary School (NUSS). As a measure of his leadership capacity, Harvey Graham became the first NUSS and NSC president. The National Student Council effectively empowered students in capacity building, leadership and inter-personal skills and general improvement in decorum.

Does it require Albert Einstein to theorise that individual student body organisations will facilitate a higher level of

discipline, respect and responsibility among students? It did in the early 1990s and can in this challenging era of student power. However, a responsible approach is needed by which each child is aware of his/her role in the teaching/learning process and the associated penalties for infringement.

Whilst I empathize with Mr Jones’ concern “In some primary schools we still have teachers raining licks like peas on people’s children”, I fully subscribe to the Bible’s admonition that the rod be used sparingly. This should entail disciplinary committees placed in schools. No one outside of such committee should be entrusted with corporal punishment responsibility unless instructed to by the principal. Flogging should also be a last resort correction procedure.

Yes, Mr Jones, changes are needed to meet requisite school needs and to mark the passage of time.

Collin CA$H Haywood

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