I read with disbelief, the expulsion of 200 students at SFB. I have been a student, a guardian and a teacher. I have also [happily and regrettably] served on academic committees where teachers, deans and other academic staff decide the fate of students.
Such committees have many goals, but one goal stands very clear: it’s about deciding which students should be allowed to continue and who should not?
Very often, it is more like a committee of judges at whose discretion some vulnerable victim is sentenced to a “knowledge –void” world.
Like defenseless victims, students are gripped with fear during such times, and indeed, most of them miserably park their bags and trek the lonely paths back to oblivion and their fate determined by outcomes of the deliberation committee.
To the best of my knowledge, there are hardly any measures thereafter, to look into why students who fully qualified for admission are now branded incompetent.
The vicious cycle repeats itself, or rather we repeat it. Can’t we as educators do better?
Every time I have served on such committees, I have oscillated between extreme dislike and undying passion for the teaching profession.
At times though, I think I have tried not to openly admit internal weaknesses of a system I serve—just like how most heads of institutions of learning will never publicly acknowledge that, just as students could have their own weaknesses, academic institutions too, have failed students in many ways.
We never look into our policies, or physical of human resource infrastructure and the various practices before we enter the academic deliberation rooms. The expulsion is done without consideration of all these factors, and students are coerced to own their failures, even those that institutions ought to account for.
I would love to think that SFB like all other academic institutions has academic standards that enrolled students satisfy before they are enrolled.
If so, so students get that dull, or fail to adjust to academic demands in institutions of high learning, or it’s our institutions that have failed to provide conditions that are ideal for academic growth?
When 200 students are expelled from SFB or any other institution, I wonder whether this reflects the academic competence on part of the institution, and therefore the academic incompetence of students such institutions are meant to serve?
I would think this is a conflicting situation. Who is justified in the whole unfortunate scenario? Do institutions ever mind to learn lessons or even carry out internal evaluations to find out why?
I say this because, in my opinion, expelling 200 students is not close, whatsoever to, to the academic competence, student-centered approach and a caring environment that ought to characterize our education institutions.
I also wonder whether or not, we have clear established mechanisms to help students, than merely wait for end of year deliberation sessions where are expected to evaluate them, retain them or expel them.
Just like parents, I would love to think we owe students more than actually think. We owe them a deep appreciation and encouragement for every effort they make along the way.
We owe them that honest and timely feedback [which for various reasons we don’t give], we owe them timely counsel that will help them adapt social behaviors or academic strategies to help them cope till they graduate.
If we are honest enough, we can advocate for a system that allows them to provide feedback on our own practices as teachers or administrators. I know they would have a lot to say that would help us improve too.
Or see us expelled to give room for better teachers, just as we expect them to give room for better students when we expel them. Until then, I think us all shares the blame and every stakeholder ought to be concerned about this development.
On the hand, I strongly believe that students ought to double their efforts to do what they can potentially.
The author is a Rwandan teacher by profession