As we build classrooms, let us not forget morals

In the recent past, the Rwandan media has seen some positive stories about the education sector. The Education Minister also added his voice by revealing that indeed, the sector had made tremendous progress giving examples like the commencement of the 9- Year Basic Education programme (9YBE), distribution of computers, introduction of English language as a medium of instruction and the online publishing of examination results.
ALLAN BRIAN SSENYONGA
ALLAN BRIAN SSENYONGA

In the recent past, the Rwandan media has seen some positive stories about the education sector.

The Education Minister also added his voice by revealing that indeed, the sector had made tremendous progress giving examples like the commencement of the 9- Year Basic Education programme (9YBE), distribution of computers, introduction of English language as a medium of instruction and the online publishing of examination results.

All the above is true, and quite commendable, considering the challenges faced by the sector, such as the high school dropout rates and  the necessity for successful implementation of English language  as the language of instruction.

However, I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister, policy makers, teachers and my readers another challenge which, if overlooked, then our education sector may find itself built on the proverbial sand.

The issue of discipline in schools is something that we all need to look into critically.

It is no secret that without discipline, one can barely achieve anything not just in school but in life generally. Discipline levels in most of the schools in this country, are really disappointing, to say the least.

At the end of last year, students at Riviera High School went on strike destroying property worth millions, simply because they were told that a fashion show could not go on beyond the stipulated time.

Just recently, students of King David Academy were reported to have been involved in a destructive strike, opposing the heavy work they are expected to do at school.

The dilemma here is that students with poor morals, can only amount to nothing in future and yet Rwanda deserves better. Schools have regulations that students are expected to follow.

When in school, they are expected to acquire vital skills, knowledge, and attitudes for their development as well as that of their country.

The common sight of students walking around shabbily dressed and never tucking in their shirts speaks a lot about their character.

If one can not do the right thing while still a student, how then will such a person conduct himself as an adult probably with national responsibilities to fulfill?

The Sinigurisha campaign where students are urged to turn down gifts from sugar daddies and mummies is facing the challenge of mobile phones. Many students now possess these gadgets, and it is doubtful if they get them from their parents.

These gadgets are illegal in school, but they have now become so ubiquitous that you may be excused for thinking that they are scholastic materials too.

A student with one is always occupied with thoughts that are hardly academic. They also have to devise means of maintaining the gadgets, yet they do not have any income, thus falling into the claws of the sugar daddies and boyfriends.

To make matters worse, some parents are so bent on defending their errant sons and daughters, and blaming the school for the harsh punishments, forgetting that at that juncture, the school is expected to do what the parent has failed to do which is to raise the child in a morally upright manner.

I have even heard of a district school inspector, who was trying to condemn the practice of a school confiscating mobile phones from students although he acknowledged that they are not allowed in the school.

This was after the school had managed to confiscate a total of 180 mobile phones from students, who often claim to be from poor families implying that they get them from self-seeking men, who intend to prey on them.

My call therefore, is that the ministry and school authorities need to critically look at how discipline can and should be addressed in school; otherwise the sector will fail in meeting its objectives.

Rwanda does not just need educated citizens but those with good morals too. As we build classrooms for the 9YBE we also need to remember to steadfastly build good morals, for those who sit in these classes.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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