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It is easy to discuss excesses in the recent behaviour of one of our nation’s teachers captured on tape brandishing a cutlass. However, we must also look at the context of daily experiences, where parents and children too have been overly aggressive. In many instances, teachers have been challenged to exercise restraint.
Many have been assaulted and have become fearful of both parents and children in their daily duties. Many incidents are captured on videos. Countless have perhaps not reached the eyes. They should trigger concerns, not only for decaying societal values and the education environment, but the family institution where the child is nurtured.
It is time for the Ministry of Education, social workers, Guyana Teachers Union, Parent Teachers Association and the Guyana Police Force come together and work out a plan to protect teachers whilst ensuring an environment of safety and learning for our nation’s children who are most vulnerable.
Laws must be in place to protect teachers from violence. The police are important in this process given its law enforcement role. Training for teachers on rules of engagement, conflict de-escalation and resolution with parents and children should form part of a compulsory annual continual education programme since the brunt of responsibility will be that of the adult teacher not the child.
No school should have parents walking in to engage teachers without passing security and the school head/ departmental head who should be able to spearhead/oversee the engagement. There can be monthly programmed meetings with police protection for all teachers, parents and children in a controlled environment so parents can have one-on-one discussions and kept abreast of their child’s behavior and performance. The Parents Teachers Association must continue to be an alliance for the benefit of our nation’s children.
It is time to move into 21st Century management of our nation’s problems with the rise of the digital world and all its influences affecting how we engage even our children and most importantly our teachers who substitute the role of parenting for eight hours per day, five days a week, moulding the minds of our most vulnerable.
Even as we condemn the violence in school, we must not shy away from addressing the intolerance being nurtured in society by People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) leaders, the nature of violence in public office with no accountability and nothing to serve as deterrence. The loss of moral fibre and standards in our society is becoming more problematic for us as a nation.
The recent spate of violence in our schools did not happen overnight. It is the representation of social decay in our society that has been happening over an extended period and is prevalent in the highest office in the land where it gets more publicity through media.
Where conflict in society is not resolved, using acceptable means, our children are the unfortunate victims being overly exposed to violence and the inappropriate methods of resolution at all levels, inside the home and outside. Our society has become one where violence is now openly encouraged, endorsed, celebrated and executed without thought of consequences, because there is none- in many cases.
Standards and measures for conflict resolution are not being set in society. Every man, woman and now our children want to act a “bad man” role; to be a “no nonsense” person, that is, someone who is capable of or at least prepared to get physical easily and over the slightest situation. The decadence in our society – starting with adults- sets the tone for what we are witnessing in our school system and lets not place blame on our children for the environment we create and the examples we set for them.
The lawlessness in our school system is ingrained in the government and by extension the society and few see the need to spurn such decadence when it serves their purpose.