Discipline; why it should be a concern for everyone


Students at GS Officiel de Butare in class. / File photo

Athanasie Vuguziga, a literacy teacher at Lit Club in Kayonza District, Eastern Province, says that for the last eight years she has been in the teaching profession, the toughest and most stressing task in the profession is handling indiscipline among learners.

She notes that all parties, that include parents and teachers, should be involved in the general conduct of students as it plays a vital role when it comes to helping disorderly students.

“The truth is that a student’s behaviour can affect their ability to learn, in fact, it can have a negative impact on the learning environment for other students as well,” she says.

Sometimes, she notes that students’ behaviour may have nothing to do with a teacher; there could be other factors influencing them, either at home, school or their fellow students.

Adding that for this reason, working together to find out the root cause of such behaviours can work much better than leaving the responsibility solely to teachers.

Why it’s not just a teacher’s job

Aminidhad Niyonshuti, an English teacher at Apaper Complex School, Kicukiro, says fighting, stealing, bullying, violation of school rules and disrespect are some of the cases of indiscipline students may portray, especially those in the adolescent stage.

“If left to be tackled by teachers only, this could have a negative impact on the quality of service delivered as a teacher. This is because it will require a lot of time, not only to find out the motive behind the behaviour, but also how to handle these students,” he says.

Vuguziga feels that the school community as a whole should also come in, especially when it comes to negligible misconduct, such as bullying, fighting or late coming.

These, she says, if not tackled properly, can lead to a poor learning environment.

Vuguziga notes that if left to be handled by the teacher alone, misbehaviour can create an unconducive environment for teachers to work in.

“School communities should come in to prevent misconduct from happening in the first place by setting rules and regulations of which, if and when not adhered to, the person should face consequences,” she observes.

Why other parties should get involved

Jacky Irabagiza, a matron at Martyrs School Remera, says building parent-teacher relationships is important when it comes to this issue. She explains that through this, a parent will be informed on the misconduct of their child.

“Combined efforts from these two parties can help keep things under control, as a student will be monitored and corrected while at home and school as well,” she says.

In most cases, Irabagiza says teachers find themselves challenged when it comes to coming up with an ideal punishment for students. As a result, teachers shun punishing some students due to fear of conflict with the parents.

However, Irabagiza notes that all this can be agreed on if there are parent-teacher agreements as far as learning is concerned.

Albert Zigama, a Kigali-based mentor, says schools should cooperate with parents, especially those who have students with underlying medical problems, to know how to handle them.

Zigama explains that parents should work closely with physicians concerning their children’s health, as this can also cause challenging behaviour amongst such students.

“As a teacher, taking action on such students may bring complications, especially if they are unaware of the student’s medical condition,” he says.

He adds that because students get influenced by the environment they are in, it’s important for schools to come up with strategies that promote positive behaviours among students.

He points out that such strategies may include making expectations for each and every student clear and coming up with basic rules which should be followed by all.