Modern ways…

…in school discipline

ith our little darlings about to return to school (and out of our hair) our Education Ministers (there’s two of them) huddled with “stakeholders” in a parley designed to improve the “deliverables” with the largest chunk of spending in the budget – $43 billion! The kids and their parents weren’t invited to the discussions so one can assume they’re either not “stakeholders” or this was above their pay grade.

Anyhow, your Eyewitness was particularly interested in the Senior Minister – Dr Roopnarine – explaining that the new focus in the schools will be on extracurricular activities – sports, physical education and music – and “discipline”. Evidently the Welfare Department will be strengthened to impart “modern means of carrying out discipline in schools”. Even though he thought our challenge were “Maths and English”, your Eyewitness will pass over the extracurricular activities for now. He must confess he experiences a certain frisson whenever he sees the word “discipline” and “children” in the same sentence.

Your Eyewitness, you see dear reader, is a product of the fag end of the “spare the rod and spoil the child” philosophy in pedagogy. And he can assure you that the rod – the “wild cane, in his instance – was scarcely spared! He suspects the Senior Education Minister (SEM) – who appears to be QUITE senior – must’ve come through the education system when it wasn’t too far removed from the penal system. Both were intended to literally whip the inmates into (an obedient) state! No “education as socialisation” namby-pamby for the SEM!

So we’re rather intrigued by his proposed “modern means” of instilling discipline. Maybe he has the US experience – of which he has a first-hand immersion – in mind? But he would know – after the permissive seventies when the Americans encouraged their little darlings to “be themselves”, they were discovered to actually be little devils!! Metal detectors for knives and dogs for drugs became standard school paraphernalia.

So the Americans are now gravitating to the “zero tolerance” approach: strict rules of behaviour are made very clear and after three strikes, the miscreant kid’s out like Flash! But the SEM doesn’t have to go all the way to the States to see Zero Tolerance in operation. He should just mosey over to the Swami school over on the West Coast – the one’s that’s been giving Queens College a run for its money.

But the SEM should know the key to “Zero Tolerance” on discipline is the kids must practically be guaranteed success at their exams. This way, most parents line up to enrol their little darlings and ensure they stick to the straight and narrow.

So, we’re back to the teachers, no?

…on returns

Most folks today wouldn’t remember, but there was a time when all Guyanese “recycled”: not just their soda (“sweet drinks”?) bottles, but also rum bottles – which at that time outnumbered the former! The recycling drive didn’t come from any government pushing “environmentalism”, but from the mundane fact that it was cheaper for the “beverage industry” to pay folks to return the glass bottles than buying new ones!

With the advent of plastic bottles, these cost so little, it wasn’t worth the while for manufacturers to purchase empties. And pretty soon, this practice resulted in the non-biodegradable plastic bottles polluting the environment as it presently does – including clogging canals! But in the US, they solved the problem by mandating a 5 cents consumer deposit on beverages bottles that can be redeemed when the bottle is redeemed.

With the slogan “Don’t trash ‘em – cash ‘em!” their environmental problem is solved. But not ours where a tax was just introduced as a revenue raising measure on the manufacturer.

Expect the same pollution and the tax to be passed on to the customer!

…of thieving

In the past, fellas would resort to “choke and rob” when they were short of dough.

The latest (electric contract) scandal with the Public Infrastructure Ministry is just the modern version of “choke and rob”.