Teacher’s Mind: Schools should embrace rehabilitative punishments

The academic success of a student is based on several factors. Of all the factors you may be thinking of, discipline is instrumental. There are students who join schools with good grades but gradually decline because of indiscipline.

The academic success of a student is based on several factors. Of all the factors you may be thinking of, discipline is instrumental. There are students who join schools with good grades but gradually decline because of indiscipline. 

This becomes even more complicated if we are to consider the age of most secondary school students who are at the adolescence stage and struggling to discover themselves.

This leads to issues like peer pressure and uncertainty, making it a little tough for them to conform to the school rules.

As a student, this same stage was not easy and I did not leave unscathed. I was suspended twice within a year for indiscipline.

The bright side is that after the second time, I had learnt my lesson and chose to overhaul my lifestyle for the better. I was even chosen to be a student leader as well.

I will always appreciate the fact that my school gave me a second chance. I think I would be a very different person if this had not happened.

Lately I have been thinking about the way things are handled today as far as discipline is concerned. My experience is that not many errant students in Rwanda are offered a second chance.

As the Ministry of Education makes efforts to improve conditions in schools by checking the dropout rates, they also need to pay attention to the issue of several students being expelled over indiscipline.

I am not in anyway condoning indiscipline in schools. All I am saying is that for a school to chase over 25 of their students in a term simply means the problem may be more with the school than with the students.

I know of hundreds of students who, because of indiscipline, have had to move from one school to another almost on an annual basis.

Anyone in the academic circles here (especially secondary school level) will confess to knowing a student who has been to Kagarama S.S, Alliance High School, to Kabuga High School, APRED Ndera, and or Nyamata High School all in the space of a mere six years.

Interestingly, such students do not appear to be so ill mannered and ‘impossible’ as is usually implied. They are simply a manifestation of a broken system.

They represent the tendency for people charged with students’ discipline to opt for the easy way out by expelling students instead of cautioning and rehabilitating them.

This is a myopic way of doing things. Thinking that all stubborn students should be kicked out of the school and new ones admitted is not a sustainable thing to do.

Students should be reprimanded with the aim of making them better students not by losing them altogether. What does a teacher benefit by having a student trotting through all the schools in the country?

First of all this has led to a problem of students forging report cards. They do this in order to find their way into other schools.

This means that a bad boy is chased from one school and joins another as a ‘good’ boy. Eventually it turns into a vicious cycle where rogue students keep rotating in the different schools without ever changing.

Instead of just chasing away students, reasonable punishments that teach the students something and help them, not only reflect on the gravity and consequences of their misdemeanours but also their future as a whole.

Students should be clearly told what it is they did wrong and why they deserve to be punished. Students should be counselled more often by their teachers.

Teachers are indeed parents to their students. Is a good parent the one who chases away a stubborn son or the one who chooses to discipline the son and keep him irrespective of the misdemeanour? Let us strive to instil discipline once and for all.

Contact: ssenyonga@gmail.com

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