When consequences are not felt for wrongful actions, the likelihood of a recurrence is very high, and that is exactly what was repeated on Wednesday when a parent walked into St Agnes Primary School and, among other things, kicked a teacher several times.
Of recent, there have been all types of assault on educators in Guyana. It is true that teachers have grown accustomed to students misbehaving, but today that has turned into lack of respect. And who else to better teach children respect than their parents? But when a parent takes it upon himself/herself to walk into a school and kick a teacher several times over a dispute, what example is that parent setting for their children?
The Education Ministry acknowledged in a statement on Thursday that any criminal act perpetrated by any parent or other person of the public on teachers, students or any member of the Education sector ought to be met with the fullest extent of the law. “In this regard, the Ministry has taken the position to assist victims in their pursuit of criminal proceedings against perpetrators in instituting the appropriate criminal charges”, the statement read, but it is certainly not enough, and moreso, it is unacceptable. To merely condemn an assault/attack on a teacher does not negate the responsibility of the Ministry to provide proper security systems at schools countrywide.
Each time a situation like this arises, a statement emerges almost instantaneously that “violence in schools be condoned”. But rather, the question to be answered is: What tangible security steps have been implemented since the last attack on a teacher?
What was said on Thursday, “the public is assured that as investigations are underway, some crucial decision will be taken and instituted in an effort towards ensuring that incidents of this nature would not be repeated,” does not answer that question. As was previously stated, it is sad that Guyana’s school system has been reduced to such a capricious level. But while many may want to cast blame on the school system for this degradation, it must be understood that moral values and respect are aspects of children’s development that are learnt at home. Families play an important role in creating and sustaining peaceful and inclusive societies, which are indispensable for sustainable and inclusive development.
Through the Social Protection Ministry, the Government must pledge to support families in parenting and in imparting core values.
While it is conceded that there is no quick-fix in relation to the issue of violence in school, there must, however, be stringent security measures in place to protect our teachers. Therefore, support must be given to the Guyana Teachers Union’s (GTU’s) call for all teachers to dress in black and white on Monday.
According to the GTU, “This is to indicate to our employers that we are dissatisfied with security arrangements put in place for teachers…By 10:00hrs, all schools must post a picture of staff in their black and white outfits with caption, ‘Parents! Stop the violence against teachers’.”
Children spend the better part of their lives with their teachers, and these very teachers, with open hearts, pave the way for children and often times take on the impossible tasks of managing misbehaving children. There was a time when parents recognised this and showed teachers the respect they deserve. There was a time also when a strict warning from a teacher was enough to get a child back in line. Seems that those times have faded in our memory. The impact of assaulting a teacher takes an emotional toll, not only on the individual, but on his/her family. This can be devastating, but does not stop there, since the school itself is impacted.
The act of a parent hitting a teacher should be condemned at all levels of our society. Lack of respect for our teachers has evolved into a more serious situation, and should be dealt with in the severest of manners.