Home Letters The MoE dealt with the matter professionally
Recently we have seen the education sector coming under increased scrutiny with a number of unfortunate incidents involving both students and a teacher. Editor, I also noticed that on Sunday, December 1, 2019, in the four daily newspapers, the Ministry of Education published two notices. One dealt with the fight involving a male and female student and the other addressed an altercation between a teacher and a parent.
Editor, the MoE’s statements are both instructive and informative. As an educator and a parent, let me say that I believe the Ministry dealt with both matters appropriately. Reading the contributions in relation to these issues on social and contemporary media, it is clear that although some of us mean well with our contributions, like the MoE’s statement points out, we have not placed the matter in its right context.
Editor, and here is where I will give a few reasons why I believe the Education Ministry dealt with the matter properly. Firstly, we must understand that in the case of the incident involving the male and female student, the Ministry is constrained by what it can say. This is due to the fact that these are minors they are dealing with and so the children’s privacy and that of their families cannot be compromised.
Analysing the language the Ministry used in its statements, one gets the impression that there is a whole lot more going on that meets the eye in the case of the fight between the two students, but obviously, the Ministry cannot state those. The Richard Ishmael Secondary School matter is a clear case of bullying, also abuse and other concerns. But the Ministry of Education is not allowed to take sides. As a responsible body, it has to listen to both sides and then make a determination as it identifies the causes and effects of the issue.
So while some sections of society may wish to see quick action against one of the parties, the MoE has to ensure it follows due process and be guided by what is outlined in the school policy regarding these matters.
The Ministry has taken a similar approach with the Winfer Gardens Primary incident involving the parent and teacher. The Ministry in no uncertain term branded the actions of the parent as criminal and rightfully so in my view. But as citizens, we should be aware that if a matter is engaging the attention of the police there is only so much that can be said on the issue or one runs the risk of prejudicing the police investigations.
Finally, Editor, this nation has a responsibility to our school children and young people. We have to play our parts in ensuring that these children, who are the future of tomorrow, inculcate good values, attitudes, morals etc. This cannot be the work of the MoE alone, these children spend quite a lot of time in the home so the home has to play its role. The family cannot abdicate its duties and then expect the Ministry of Education to fix a problem that those in the home helped to create. We have to continue to speak to our children.
Editor, it begs the question, what message is that parent sending to those children? Children model behaviours from their parents, is that the type of behaviour that mother wants her children to embrace and showcase? I firmly believe that the parent should publicly apologise to this nation and more importantly to her children.