When discipline needs to be disciplined

My dear Billy, It would seem that most people in this blessed country are blissfully unaware of what’s in store in the much advertised nine-year schooling. Among the blessings attributed to it, is there any room left for a semblance of discipline in class and outside? I am always surprised when l see people getting surprised at the lack of discipline in our schools. It’s like leaving your garden in a derelict state and then being surprised to see that it has been invaded and infested with bad weeds. For most acts of indiscipline on the part of children are the results of their parents’ lack of responsibility and failure to breed their kids well. It is common knowledge that things left to themselves tend to degenerate. This applies equally to human beings, and perhaps to a more damaging extent. The signs of this degeneration among boys and girls are everywhere – at home, at school, in public places, on the roads, at bus stops, in buses, in the sports fields, in the cinema halls, everywhere. The type of behaviour exhibited by students shocks, upsets and perturbs. It sometimes achieves proportions of obscenity and often verges on pornography. “That’s not what we taught them,” some parents protest. But the question that they should answer is: “Did you ever teach them anything at all?” Values are no longer imparted at home since parents have neither the time nor the disposition to inculcate these. They have abdicated all responsibility regarding their beloved offspring. What’s worse, their own language and behaviour at home are far from constituting any positive values or morality which the kids can emulate. Newspapers abound with reports of instances of students’ indiscipline, the ones more deadly and daring than the others – the sexual bouts of schoolgirls and schoolboys making the rounds of mobile phones have become a regular feature; a boy throwing an underwear at the face of a lady teacher to show his disapproval of a song that she was singing to celebrate Music Day at school; boys and girls caught drinking and mooching and gallivanting on the beach or in the arcades of shopping centres when they should be following classes at school; boys and girls taking drugs outside school premises and inside; students in gaming dens and other places not meant for them – all these and more make the headlines in the newspapers on a rather regular basis. Just about thousands of cases of criminal activities performed by students have been reported to the police, my dear Billy. Does this give you the impression that our young people are a damned lot and that they have plunged headlong into an ocean of doom and decadence? If you think so, l’m afraid you are sadly mistaken. Because it’s not only the sour cases that come into the limelight; there are sweet ones too, fortunately. Our media also daily report the proud achievements of a vast army of students who individually or collectively shine in various sectors of activity. If some are bright in studies, others excel on the sports field; many are very good in extra-curricular, sociocultural, artistic, literary activities. Many are all-rounders. I can now give you the names of a handful of teenagers who have engaged in creative writing and contribute to their school magazine or the local newspapers. It is most unfortunate that quite a number of negative elements come to tarnish the reputation of the whole school population. It’s like the proverbial rotten fish in the basket that spoils the whole lot. But they cannot be overlooked or dismissed, my dear Billy. Their clan is unfortunately on the increase. Their actions, movements, dressing fads, and general behaviour affect their classmates who want to ape them in order to grab attention. They may still be a minority, but their number is sizable enough to cause concern. Playing truant for the whole day or just bunking a few classes is not a new phenomenon, my dear Billy. It is as old as the school institution itself, when Charlemagne invented it. Haven’t you ever pretended suffering from a headache in order to stay at home, especially on days when you had failed to do your homework? I must confess that in my own days, l used to cut classes with my friends on several occasions, especially when the teachers taking them were boring and were nothing short of sleep inducing pills. Yes, they existed in our days too. But there were limits that we would never cross and we considered playing truant as part of school life. But we were so far from what is happening today. It would seem that here as in so many other fields, evolution is in reverse gear. And a definite stop has to be put to it. Sooner rather than later. There’s no point loading the blame and responsibility on the shoulders of others. There is need for burden sharing. The expiry date to bring students back on the track is today.

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