Truancy, ‘student rights’ and discipline To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
December 8, 2001

I wish to draw to your attention to a matter which I strongly believe needs to be urgently addressed at all levels of society.

While the term “youths are leaders of tomorrow” holds much weight, one wonders whether our current state of affairs with regard to truancy and “students rights” will see our nation progress in years to come under the reigns of ambitious visionaries, who have a passion to uphold societal norms, or carefree youth who live for today and have no thought of tomorrow, through the lack of caution in their attitude towards themselves and others.

What is puzzling is the fact that our society is an open and democratic one, but democracy has been extended to our school system with discipline now becoming difficult, and in some instances impossible to enforce.

It is my strong view that some of our teachers are doing their best to enforce discipline and groom, rather than act as agents of doom for our children, some of whom need regular reassurance that they have purpose and a contribution to make to society.

Because “student rights” is widely advocated in more broadly democratic societies like the US, it is becoming increasingly pervasive in our school system that some students have, and yet others, are quickly becoming powers unto themselves, creating an atmosphere where teachers find it increasingly difficult to exercise restraint.

What the wider society needs to take cognizance of, is the fact that we all have a role to play in disciplining our youths, rather than condone acts of rudeness on the part of our students.

I’ve been privy to an incident in one of our Secondary Schools, where a student responded to a teacher in utter disdain and vexation after been reprimanded over his consistently rude and distracting behaviour in the classroom.

That student not only told the teacher that his parents “don’t talk to him like that”’ but he ventured further to tell the teacher “your eyes pass me, Sir”

If this is not a display of stark anarchy in our schools, then , Sir, could you find another description for not only my benefit, but the other teachers who experience sleeplessness in some instances, having faced the brunt of rudeness and threats by students.

Parents, we have a role to play in disciplining our children in the home, where they receive their primary socialization. One recognizes that it may not be easy for single parents to do so, but where all avenues of discipline by a male figure close to family have been closed, then those parents should approach the Welfare Division of the Ministry of Education.

Students need to realize that life is short, and their future is at stake, whether they choose to live it long or short. They should also see that discipline as being exercised, is in their best interest in order to shape and not break them.

The elderly of society should continue to extend a hand of care in disciplining our youth when they go wrong, in spite of being berated, since experience teaches wisdom.

I wish to encourage our teachers to continue to proudly execute their profession with dignity and pride, carrying themselves as role models for our youths. To the wider society, I wish to throw out a challenge to keep an eye out for our youths. The next President or Ganster may well be your child.
Faith Myers.