ANALYSIS: Tackling Indiscipline in Secondary Schools through Community Service

When we talk about indiscipline in secondary schools, what immediately springs to mind is the students' non-conformity to the institutions' rules and regulations pertaining to the school uniform and expected behavioural patterns, not doing their homework, class shirking, playing truant, consuming alcoholic drinks, smoking cigarettes, being verbally and physically aggressive towards their peers and members of the staff, vandalising the school property among others.  The modes of punishment stem anything from remarks in the student journals, detentions, rustications to expulsions in extreme cases.
However, these measures hardly seem to have the desired effect on curbing indiscipline in secondary schools, on the long run.  If anything, cases of indiscipline are on an all-time high and some institutions in Mauritius have even resorted to having CCTVs installed within the school compound to keep an eye on the students.  
So, what causes some students to continuously adopt a rebellious streak at school? There are certainly many factors ranging from boredom, lack of interest for studies, negative peer influence to social and psychological issues.  In such cases, the above-mentioned methods of punishment would hardly deter the students who hold school in very low esteem.  If anything, for some of them, a punishment is a badge of honour, to be worn with pride, to prove to others that they have what it takes to defy the school rules while a rustication could be interpreted as simply a break from school.
This is where community service could be considered as the missing jigsaw puzzle piece.  Where traditional methods of punishment have failed, the introduction of community service could be considered as a revolutionary method to bring forth a high dose of reality to the repeatedly non-conforming students.  By community service, I mean such activities as helping out in homes/orphanages, helping the authorities with protecting the environment, helping charities among many others. The list of possibilities is certainly long!  Ideally, this could take place during the week-ends or span during the holidays to prevent tampering with the student's schooling and last not more than a few hours per week.    These activities could act as an eye-opener about the real issues of society and simultaneously, make the student realise the value of education in life, develop a sense of responsibility and get back on the right tracks.  As an encouragement, a testimonial could be awarded to the student after the completion of the community service, in recognition of his efforts to mend his/her ways.  
Of course, this necessitates the active collaboration and participation of all stakeholders: the schools, parents, governmental organisations and NGOs, the local councils, the police force, psychologists among others.  It should not be the concern of the schools alone.  This project certainly will necessitate extensive planning, networking and coordination.  The whole society will need to work as one to encourage the youngsters to value education and complete their studies.  If community service could be the catalyst to bring forward a new holistic supplement to academic education, change perceptions, instill human values and empower the students, it could be tried on a pilot basis.  After all, education is meant to be a life preparation, in the true sense of the term. 

Commentaires

I forgot to add: The prevalence of massive private tuition, which is but parallel schooling, contributes a lot to indiscipline. Formerly, we resorted to private tuition when we really needed it. Now it has become the norm. In most colleges, specially the boys colleges, most pupils as from form 4, p... on what's done at school. Had such massive private tuition not existed, or at least had it been used to top up school work, the pupils would crawl on all fours to get the most out of school!!!

All the symptoms of a decadent society are here for all to see. But poltical, economic and intellectual elites are turning a blind eye. Only a holistic approach with strong leadership can reverse the trend. Canada is exporting a school program (www.rootsofempathy.org) that can be included in the strategy. The whole system - economic, social, educational, etc - needs an overhaul. It must start now.

Hi Bhawna,
You have rightly listed most examples of indiscipline, and the available forms of punishment. I don't know if you are an educator or an outside onlooker. I respect your views, yet I beg to differ on a few points.
The very effect of a punishment is to act as a deterrent for an offender not to repeat his wrong, and to dissuade others from doing same.
The forms of punishment you have listed do not act as a deterrent for the simple reason that most of the time they are simply NOT CARRIED OUT. This is specially the case in State colleges, where the rectors are simply push-button operators who dance to the tunes of the Ministry.
1. Remarks in journals/report books is a joke. Most often the parents of unruly pupils have absolutely no authority on their children.
2. Detentions involve lengthy procedures. Fill the form. Have the parents sign back, assuming the signature is not forged! Set the work. With no guarantee that the pupil turns up. As if it's the usher who gets the punishment. Formerly, the teacher filled the form and the offender stayed behind that day itself.
3. State educators can testify that due to intervention from the Ministry, and due to f....... interference of politicians, a 'rusticated' pupil comes back to school after 2 days, and a hero on top of that.
4. Expulsion: I recall this conversation with a former RCC rector: "When you got K expelled, the entire RCC came under control." His reply:" I also had to expel B, because I can't expel a hindu alone, so a muslim must accompany, and you've got to have a 'dossier solide' against them!"
In recent times, only when Mr Bunwaree himself backed RChaperon SSS that 2 culprits were expelled.

So, Bhawna, you can imagine how hard it can be at times to work in a state owned boys college. A few times, criticism has been levelled against the use of violence. What you should know is that this happens when the teacher is really at boiling point and a slap comes out under extreme provocation, not out of pleasure. And then you'll hear some persons of certain institution, (you know what I'm referring to), making a hell of a noise.

Your suggestions are worthy. But it would be naive to believe, that in this country, where most state-owned institutions are going to the dogs, they could be put into practice.

In the mean time let's face the truth: discipline-wise the private or confessional colleges are far better managed than state colleges!

Neither rules nor regulation wiii radicate the problem. Parents are not being responsible whatever their shortcomings they look for scapegoats.Education is free, transport is free etc.but the authority has to place police in civil dress on bus stop to track pupils who are willing to play the fools.This is just one obvious example.If parents can't check who will?

Sophiste are you a parent? The problem is complex as you said. Righthly so.Just as the author and Rutz. But Iam afraid you are being overly simplistic. Many parents are truly not being responsible enough but don't you think that society in general is overwhelming most. Only proactive leadership capable of engaging ALL stakeholders can change things.

With the hundreds of tuitions they take, will they have time to do community service?

Also, these community service should have "force de loi". Without this, we can't force them to do community service.

But overall it is a very good idea. Congrats.