Recently the media reported that five students of a West Berbice secondary school were suspended since November and not allowed to submit their School Based Assessments (SBA) for the Caribbean Examinations Council exams later this year. The punishment was meted out to the students because they gave the head teacher a “nickname” (alligator).
The Caribbean Voice (TCV) urges the Ministry of Education to clarify current suspension guidelines and make them more specific so that the rights of students are not disregarded nor are violations lopsidedly outweighed by consequences.
While a teacher may take a student’s cell phone if it is a distraction, no teacher should have the right to go through a student’s cell phone. Besides, preventing students from attending classes and submitting their SBAs is not only putting them at a definite disadvantage, but also infringes on their rights to an education and indicates misplaced priorities.
In recognition of far more serious issues that need to be addressed in schools, TCV and the Guyana Teachers Union have teamed up to provide teachers with requisite skills and to help students deal with issues like low self esteem, self harm, lack of coping skills, abuse, bullying, depression, suicide ideation, increasing alcohol use. As GTU General Secretary, Coretta McDonald stated at a recent press conference, “In this partnership, we are not only going to build our teachers, in terms of assisting and helping them to develop new skills and dealing with the social ills we have, but we recognise that we are going to pass this knowledge onto the students so that we will be able to teach our students how to operate with each other, how to resolve conflicts without fists fighting or using weapons”.
Surely this is where the priorities ought to be?
The Caribbean Voice