The problem of indiscipline in schools

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
December 6, 1999

With growing publicity of indiscipline in schools we asked the man/woman-in-the-street to share their views this week on the source of the indiscipline and what measures could be instituted to curb it. The views follow:

Magnelle Glynn - housewife: 'Schools really cannot do more without the cooperation of parents and parents should be able to control their children attending schools. The behaviour pattern of school children today is shocking and parents are to be blamed for this. Parents should play greater roles in the lives of their schoolchildren. They should find time to talk with them; `gaff' as we would say. In spite of the harsh economic times and the fact that people have to work harder than in earlier times, I still think that parents must never be too busy for their children. My children, big as they be they still come to talk to me about some of their problems.'

Fr Malcolm Rodrigues - priest: 'Many parents have complained that the influence of the television is what is partly responsible for the breakdown in moral values among schoolchildren. This breakdown is reflected in the behaviour of students at school. I am annoyed because this behaviour is not really a part of our culture. I was equally annoyed and disappointed with the footage of the two students [involved in sexual misconduct] being shown on a newscast and repeated as well. The whole nation is searching for a revival in moral standards. I think we need to make a concerted effort through education and more so through the informal channels. Parents and teachers should set the example. It is a worrying thought to know that if that [which was shown on television] goes on in schools you can imagine what goes on in the discos.'

Mark Bacchus - private sector employee: 'The times have changed since I left school. Anyway I am not shocked by reports of students threatening teachers; of students getting involved in substance abuse and even sexual misconduct because of the things we hear happening in the schools. I have relatives who go to school at any time and without written excuse for absence and lateness. In my days if you went to school without an excuse you were sent home and could only be re-admitted if your parents accompanied you. Because of a lack of parental guidance, the moral values among many school children are not there and because of this many school children are just drifting through life. Parents have got to get involved in their children's school life.'

Audreyanna Thomas - public sector employee: 'Indiscipline in the schools has become more prevalent in recent years because of the breakdown in the family structure. There are many single-parent families, the majority of which are headed by mothers who work and find themselves too busy to enforce any kind of firm discipline in the home. As a result of this, too, many children of school age are selling on the streets earning and contributing to the family's upkeep. Unlike in the past neighbours are no longer looking out for children. Parents need to reassess their roles. I would suggest that because the level of discipline is no longer there in the schools, that organisations such as the Young Brigade or Cadet Corps be re-established in the schools. The discipline I learnt from these organisations, which formed part of the Guyana National Service, has helped me in my personal growth and development. They can serve as the parenting hand.'

Susan Mohabir - housewife: 'Parents and the state of the country's economy are to a great extent responsible for the decline in standards and moral values in general. This has weakened family life and children go to school wanting in many instances to prove themselves. We need to tell children the facts of life such as saying no to drugs. There is the issue of single parents as well. Many young women are becoming parents when they should still be at school. Because of this there is a great need for parenting education in the schools countrywide. Parents, today, do not spend much quality time with their children because they are so busy trying to make ends meet. They do not discuss with their children issues that could affect their livelihood. These children take these problems to school and it is the teacher who must try to correct behaviours and attitudes which are not enforced in the home.'

Terrence Moore - private sector employee: 'Parents are to take the larger part of the blame for indiscipline in the schools. Parents need to monitor their children's attitude in the schools and in general when they are out of the home. Parent Teachers' Associations [PTA] need to get more involved in promoting parenting education. Because parents are failing in their duty more pressures are being placed on teachers. Parents themselves also contribute to tensions because of their attitude when dealing with teachers. Parents need to visit schools regularly to see if their children are attending school. Disciplinary measures should also be enforced in schools. Finally, I think that the Ministry of Education needs to bring back school inspectors who would make regular checks on schools and on students as used to happen years ago.'

Trevor Algu - accountant: 'I think that the indiscipline in schools stems from a lack of intelligence and the inability to reason on the part of the students. This is so because they are not given the type of stimulation they need in the home environment which in all right should be provided by parents. As it is at present I think that the Ministry of Education and PTAs need to work closer together to get children involved in more recreational and other healthy activities which will help them to develop rounded personalities. This is in itself a form of discipline.'

Alan Bunbury - private sector employee: 'The source of indiscipline in the school starts with the family. If parents do not exercise discretion and are not examples to their children what could we expect when their children go into the schools. If the parent 'cuss' one time the child may 'cuss' ten times. There is no example there. Children look to their parents, uncles, aunts and older relatives as role models. On the other hand parents should not neglect the school. Teachers too must not only be academically qualified but they must be citizens with high moral values. The church as an institution in this country needs to reach out to youths.'

Noel Persaud - public sector employee: 'Indiscipline in the schools starts in the home. The family structure has been weakened and we have many broken homes where the environment is one which lacks concern for the welfare for the school child. It may not be deliberate but it may be due to circumstances. There is need at the school level for youth groups to deal with issues which organisations like Help and Shelter could assist in. At the home level people need to return to the church for counselling and spiritual guidance. A lot could be done through the media especially the television which young people watch. This need not be documentaries but simple advertisements.'

Colin Beaton - internal auditor: 'Indiscipline in the school starts with a weak family structure and lack of family support. This creates a social problem which we are now experiencing. Parents may not have the ability to earn enough to support the family and still have time on hand to monitor children's activities out of the home and in school. More time needs to be devoted to the family and to ensuring a good dose of discipline in the upbringing of children and strengthening family bonds. Government needs to ensure that the adult population is well educated and capable of earning enough so that time is available for the family. Church groups, social and service organisations as well as the law enforcement agencies all need to play their part to ensure a stable society.'

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples