Some lower secondary students, seeking admission earlier this week in Mothithang higher secondary school for the 2013 academic session, have not yet gotten over the hard line the school authorities took.
They took the liberty to talk down and lecture both the students and some parents, who had come along, for the slightest of reasons, from long hair, to no admissions for tattoos, to only ‘satisfactory’ grades for character traits.
But it was clear to see where this tough stance was coming from. After lecturing and shouting, the authorities insisted the parents and guardians sign an undertaking, written in Dzongkha, where the parent and the student agree to any decision taken by the school’s disciplinary committee for violating the school’s code of conduct.
The parents and guardians signed the undertaking – some were not even clear what it was about – because, to them, the issue of importance was getting admission for their child for next year’s schooling.
Mothithang School is probably not the only government high secondary school that is taking such a stance, when it comes to new admissions. Every high school or higher secondary government school will probably do the same thing, which is getting parents to sign the discipline policy undertaking that empowers the school to take tough decisions, like expulsions, if a student gets out of hand.
Ever since corporal punishment was banned in schools, discipline has become a major problem in schools across the country.
Students have attempted to attack teachers, because they chopped off their locks. Parents have taken teachers to court, because a teacher had trashed their child. There have been several instances, where high school and higher secondary students have even indulged in crimes and ended up behind bars.
It has been a tough period for all concerned, but now it appears that schools have a discipline policy, in place of corporal punishment, that students and their parents must accept so as to get admission in a school, and remain in that school.
In some ways, it appears to be quite a drastic measure, but the problems at hand are serious ones that need to be dealt with firmly, before they spiral out of control.
The schools alone cannot tackle the problems the education system is grappling with; parents have an equal, if not more important, role to play.
Families with means are sending their children to boarding schools outside the country; but for most, the sole option is through government schools at home.
Yet branding or labelling youth as being incompetent or likely to be a rotten apple, because of only satisfactory grades in leadership qualities, or because of long hair or a tattoo might be the wrong approach.
This is really judging things from the surface, and could in fact encourage young minds to loathe authority.
If students have weakness, the school is where it must be strengthened.