Rein in this schoolboy thuggery | Daily News

Rein in this schoolboy thuggery

The shocking incident surrounding a school in Puttalam where a teacher was assaulted and his home damaged by students of the same school no doubt is an unprecedented development and is a reflection of how the standards of discipline had taken a nose dive among the present student generation not to mention the deterioration evident all round.

The students had come to school in the morning according to a notice given to them to collect their admission cards for the O/L examination. Some of the students had come to the school sporting long hair and beards and improperly attired only to be told by the victim teacher to return and come in a decent manner. The students had gone back and done the needful and returned. However the same evening they had gone to the teacher’s house and assaulted him unmercifully as captured in a video recording aired on TV. They had also pelted stones at the teacher's house. The teacher was later admitted to the Puttalam Base Hospital while police arrested four of the five students responsible for the assault and had them remanded while the fifth student is absconding. The teacher concerned is said to be in charge of discipline in the school.

The episode is something that should be viewed with the utmost seriousness and consternation by all. It is but a demonstration of the times we live in. In the past the sight of a teacher was sufficient to drive fear in the minds of students and they who came to class without doing their homework literally shivered in their pants dreading the six cuts that would bite into their posteriors. That was time teachers were looked up to with awe and reverence and to whom even the parents turned to for advice and counsel.

Not so any more from the look of things and what is more, things can only get worse what with schoolchildren reported to be on drugs in a big way and social media too playing no small role in influencing the minds of the young. The advocacy against corporal punishment which was the norm against errant students in the past too may have had its negative side going by the many reported incidents of indiscipline in schools.

Students of any school obviously have to dress as students and sport a decent appearance. Short hair cuts are compulsory in all schools for male students who have to abide by set standards of discipline. The severest of punishment should be meted out to these schoolboy thugs so that there will be no repetition of such roughhousing of teachers in the future, whatever court verdict awaits them.

Schools, after all, are not just institutions of learning but also places where the young charges are guided and moulded to be disciplined and responsible citizens who will one day play responsible roles in society. It is also a place where students are taught to respect authority. But from the look of things the boot appears to be on the other leg. Students appear to be calling the shots and teachers are placed at their mercy judging by the incident shown on TV where the teacher concerned appeared to be pleading with his assailants.

The Education Minister has to promptly step in and arrest the deterioration of discipline in schools. The teachers should be empowered with the authority to act tough against wayward students. We are witnessing a reenactment of scenes in the universities in our schools. This could well turn out to be a dangerous situation which could upset the entire educational set up.

The Ministry should draw up a strict code of conduct to be followed by all students in schools. Those failing to adhere should be asked to leave. This type of conduct should be nipped in the bud. Teachers should be told in no uncertain terms to assert themselves vis-a-vis their charges and show them all who is the boss.

Unfortunately teachers themselves have not helped their cause and have been recently conducting themselves in a manner that no longer draws respect both from students and the public.

Teachers have been more on the roads than in the classroom conducting protests and agitations neglecting their duties towards the students. There have been media reports of school Principals, no less, nabbed for sexually abusing students. A school Principal was also recently arrested for carrying out a moonshine business in his home premises.

Teachers also are lax in attending to their classroom duties and instead conduct private tuition classes for additional profit. Recently the conduct of university academics in refusing to mark AL exam answer scripts had also left a bad taste. The bleak economic condition had also affected many homes, exerting additional pressure on schoolgoers which they sometimes give vent to in violent forms. Diplomatic handling of the situation too should be an option considering the unusual times. After all, students are of an impressionable age and also can be emotional and sensitive which can surface in violent acts. Parents too have a huge role to play in defusing the situation.

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