Indiscipline in schools | Daily News

Indiscipline in schools

Education Minister Dr. Susil Premajayantha was right on the mark when he said that discipline in schools should be maintained starting with primary level. Speaking at an event to appoint new members to Religious Advisory Boards at the Education Ministry, Minister Premajayantha said that the education a student receives at school with mutual respect and without unfair competition was a good foundation for future social progress. He added that the leadership ability that a Principal displays in the school makes a major contribution to create a disciplined society.

Discipline in schools has overall declined to abysmal levels. Today, there is hardly any respect for teachers. It was only the other day that a Master-in-Charge of discipline, no less, in a school in Puttalam was assaulted mercilessly by a group of students for being asked to come to school in decent attire and after having their hair cut short. Five students were arrested over the incident and produced before Court.

This just about sums up the issue of discipline in schools now; such incidents were unheard of in the past. Discipline was an integral part of the overall education of the students. Time was when students who had not done their homework practically shivered in their pants at the sight of their teacher, dreading the six cuts that would bite into their posteriors. Today, students are not intimidated by their teachers and carry on regardless. Perhaps, the suspension of corporal punishment is related to this state of affairs following agitations by groups against this form of deterrent.

The expansion of the mass media and the exposure of the young to various forms of violence and unbecoming conduct too could be another factor. New technology and an obsession with computers have drained the young of all emotion, including a sense of discipline and respect.

However, the main factor for indiscipline in schools could be the teachers themselves. Recently, teachers and Principals have not conducted themselves in a manner that inspires respect for the teaching profession. In fact, teachers were seen more on the roads than in classrooms, conducting protests and making one demand after another.

The teachers had taken up cudgels on behalf of those affected by the new tax regime although only a handful of teachers themselves are penalized. It is about time that teachers were brought down to Earth and made to take cognizance of their chief role in society - that of educating the young and guiding them towards becoming useful and productive citizens. The teachers appear to have forgotten this cardinal duty going by their recent conduct and a wake-up call was clearly in order. No wonder discipline in schools has hit an all-time low with such bad examples shown by teachers.

Teaching which was once considered a noble profession has today lost its lustre and dignity and is being looked down upon as just another salaried job, a far cry from the days when teachers dedicated their time and energy towards the education of their charges with little reward. Readers’ columns in the newspapers are full of accounts of such sacrifice and dedicated endeavours of former teachers now long departed, by their past pupils who are respectable members of society holding high positions. Alas, there could be no such accolades in the future, since the conduct of teachers and Principals has hit the nadir.

Hardly a day passes without an account in the media of a Principal being nabbed for corruption and even sexual abuse of students. The conduct of university professors too leaves much to be desired. Recently they decided to keep away from marking the answer scripts of students sitting for the GCE Advanced Level examination as a protest against the recent taxes.

All this, no doubt, goes to reflect the parlous state to which the teaching profession had descended. The authorities should wake up to the possibility of our student population being increasingly used as bargaining chips to win over demands that are outside the ambit of education as a whole.

The conduct by that segment of adults who are dedicated to impart not only an education but also mould the characters of the young and guide them on the right path to make them worthy citizens of the country will no doubt have a contrary effect with all ethics and values discarded by the emerging generation and make them lose all respect for members of the teaching profession.

Minister Premajayantha should probe the root cause of why there is rampant indiscipline in schools. He will not have to go far to find the real reason. Education authorities should introduce strict standards for the recruitment of teachers. Their backgrounds should be subjected to an intense probe. However qualified some may be academically, there may be individuals with character flaws and questionable tendencies which go against the grain of the teaching profession.

In any event the Iskoley Mahattaya (teacher) is today a forgotten and a dying breed after education became a money spinning industry. Much needs to be done to restore the teaching profession to its glory days and discipline in schools will automatically fall into place.


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