TEACHER'S MIND: Students’ discipline is not entirely a school matter

A very interesting story recently appeared on the BBC website. The story revolved around the now common plight that school administrators face of non-cooperation by the parents in the discipline of their children.

A very interesting story recently appeared on the BBC website.

The story revolved around the now common plight that school administrators face of non-cooperation by the parents in the discipline of their children.

In the BBC story, UK parents of unruly pupils could be taken to court by teachers.

It may sound funny at a first but it is a serious matter that most teachers worldwide would smile at.

The United Kingdom already has home-school agreements that spell out what is expected of parents and their children in the education system.

The new move is aimed at those few parents that have failed to honour the home-school agreements.

The logic behind this rather interesting development is that schools are trying hard to get parents more involved in the discipline and academics of their children.

Some parents tend to think that once they have sent their chid to a school, that is the end of the story for them until the child returns for home. 

It is now very common to hear of wrangles that pit parents against the school administration here in Rwanda. In most if not all, the bone of contention is often the handling of a disciplinary case involving a student.

Just last week I was in a taxi with the deputy headmaster of one of the schools in Kigali. When I asked him where he was heading, he painfully said, “I am going to the police station to report a case of a student who stole other students’ property and then escaped from school.”

As the conversation progressed I came to realise that the pain in his speech had nothing much to do with the student’s behaviour but with that of the student’s parents instead. 

He had on several occasions talked to the parents about the unbecoming behaviour of their son and asked them to come to school for a chat on the same issue.

Unfortunately, the parents turned down his requests on what I would call flimsy grounds of ‘always being busy and having no time’.

Well now these busy parents have to deal with a school-less child who is also a thief wanted by the Rwanda Police. If the Rwandan police can have time to deal with your child’s behaviour then who are you not to mind?

Parents ought to understand that once a child is brought to school, he/she is not above the school rules regardless of the family background.

Crossing the line definitely warrants condemnation at the very least, or a punishment at the most. Some parents give their children mobile phones yet these are not allowed in the school.

Once a child is expelled for having one, you are likely to see the parent trying to illogically defend the child.

Charity is said to start at home and the same applies to discipline. That is why when a child fails to live up to the disciplinary standards of the school, he or she is sent back home.

Parents are supposed to be partners and not adversaries in the struggle to engender discipline in the children who will certainly be the leaders of tomorrow.

Without discipline a child is certainly set to be a failure in life at many levels. Discipline is very important in life. All the successful people in life have got discipline written allover their lives.

I therefore urge parents to not only look at the academic performance of their children but take time to look into their discipline as well as lack of it will surely block any progress.

In 2007, while meeting teachers in Kigali, President Kagame clearly stressed that a parent who condones the indiscipline of his/her child is the bigger problem.

He added that schools have a responsibility to inculcate discipline in the children and they should not be deterred by parents who have failed to discipline their children.

I wish he would push for laws to punish such parents too like is being done in the UK.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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