Should schools get involved with students’ behaviour during holidays?

When schools break off, almost every student is happy. They feel like a bird that has been set free from a cage. The cunning ones know that their parents are no match to the strict school rules and often use this time to engage in mischief or activities that may put them on the wrong side of the law.
Police spokesperson ACP Damas Gatare. Education Times / Timothy Kisambira
Police spokesperson ACP Damas Gatare. Education Times / Timothy Kisambira

When schools break off, almost every student is happy. They feel like a bird that has been set free from a cage. The cunning ones know that their parents are no match to the strict school rules and often use this time to engage in mischief or activities that may put them on the wrong side of the law.

It is not unusual for students to fall on the wrong side of the law as police records often prove.

After the law has taken its course and schools resume, should the respective schools’ administration take it up from there? Proponents of this theory say that such a student tarnishes the school’s image which takes age to achieve.  However critics of this theory argue that the school should not poke its nose in things that take place beyond the school boundaries.

Should schools look the other way and say that since the students were not at school, it is none of their business? Yes its holiday time but the school’s name cannot be detached from a student involved in crime. At the end of the day the school’s name is tarnished nonetheless.

The principal of GS ADB Nyarutarama, Jean Marie Nzabamwiza says holiday is the parents’ time to be in charge of their children and to closely monitor them. If anything goes wrong it should be up to parents to deal with the situation.  

“When there are cases of students arrested or involved in misconduct, we cannot punish them once they are back in school as they were not involved in any wrong doing while in school. What we do is ensure that they undergo counselling and guidance when back in school to ensure that they cease their inappropriate conduct and do not pass it on to others.”

Nzabamwiza goes on to say, “Punishing them again might be inappropriate because some have deeper issues from their homes or families. Sit them down, talk to them, understand the root of their problems and make it known to them what you as the school expect from them in terms of conduct.”

At Alliance High School in Gasabo district, while students are on holiday, it is clear to all parties that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure the discipline of their children.  “During school holidays, teachers and school administration have little if any control over students. We cannot go punishing students for offences they committed out of school; we leave it to the parents and the law to take its course. We only punish for offences committed while at school,” says John Gasana, the school’s director.

Janvier Gasana the Deputy Director General in charge of Education Quality and Standards Department at the Rwanda Education Board says it is the intention of the board that there should be cooperation between schools and parents to follow up on incidences of misconduct where the students are involved.

“All schools are supposed to at least follow up and that is our intention, but there is a challenge of lack of collaboration between the two. At times parents are not willing to come forth and share reports of such misconducts so that schools can take it from there and assist in any way. It is understandable that parents will want to feel overprotective and want to portray their children as well disciplined.”

Gasana goes on to say that they sensitise parents to report and cooperate with school authorities in case of misconducts not for them to be expelled or re-punished but for there to be collaboration in trying to shape a student’s behaviour.

We sensitise and urge parents to keep teachers and the school administration in the know about the conduct of the students while they are at home, be it positive , negative or police cases. This helps us to know the real status of the students’ discipline.”

GS Acepter in Nyabagabe district would want to follow up on students’ conduct while they are away but it is very challenging. The school’s Principal, Virginia Mukamugema says that they may have the intentions to follow up on students’ conduct while they are away but there are no mechanisms in place to for that.

“Even if we wished to find out the behaviour of our students, there is no possible way we can do this.  Once schools close we cease to have regular contact and we trust that parents are in charge. At times students live far from school and the reports of the incidences may not reach us and neither the police nor the parents contact us when there are incidences.”

Evelyn Uwineza a university student who attended a private high school run by a church says she was cagey whenever she would want to engage in any kind of mischievous behaviour while on holiday because if word reached the school, she would face the wrath for not being a good ambassador of the school.  

“If it reached the school that you were involved or mentioned in any misconduct such as drinking then you would face a suspension and a warning that in case of reoccurrence you would be expelled. In a way it kept us on the right track because one knew of the high consequences of one’s actions. It is also good as some have it easy with their parents or guardians and go unpunished. Some who prove to be tough cases were reported by their parents to school after opening for more guidance. ”

Just before schools broke for holidays, Rwanda National Police, held a country-wide campaign in over a hundred schools to sensitise students on good conduct. Police spokesperson, ACP Damas Gatare says that upbringing of children is a task for both parents and school administration.

“Upbringing of children is a shared responsibility. With both parents and schools having a role to play in the process, they should both be actively involved for there to be follow-ups. As the law enforcement body, we encourage them to involve each other for it to be a comprehensive process,” he said.

The schools’ involvement in students’ discipline while they are away for holidays comes off as important but they cannot do much if they are not updated on the latest on the students’ conduct.

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WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO ABOUT DISCIPLINE OF THEIR STUDENTS DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

 

Kiba Muvunyi, School Director

 

We as teachers we have a role of talking with these students especially before they go for their holidays in order to advise them on how they should behave for their own good. Showing them the consequences of developing some bad behaviours and how they can use their holiday time responsibly.

Nicholas Kizza, Parent

During school holidays, the schools have no responsibility over their students. However it is imperative that they remind the parents to take full responsibility for their children.

Esther Kaliza, Student

According my understanding, I think they should give them holiday assignments to keep them occupied and also ask them to be responsible while at home.

Danny Izere, Student

I think there should be jobs in holidays that occupy students so that they do not get tempted to do drugs or engage in any bad behaviour.

Joselyne M. Umutoniwase, Student

Nothing much can be done really. Students become a concern to the parents or guardians once on holiday. It is the parents to be mindful of their children.

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