The ugly side of prefects

  • Education
  • Sunday, 13 Mar 2011

PREFECTS can be mean, and while many of them may already have a wicked streak in them, I attribute this nature to their discipline teachers.

These teachers are creating demons out of the prefects by asking them to carry out their orders without any consideration.

Recently at a Shah Alam school, students who arrived late were stopped by the Form Three prefect on duty, and told to wait on the side of the school’s entrance.

The students, mostly fifth-formers complied, but soon after, they were told by the junior prefect to sit on the ground. While some obeyed, there were others who refused as the ground was wet from a heavy downpour earlier.

The prefect was annoyed and retorted that “if the others can, why can’t you just sit”. She warned that the late-comers who refused to sit on the wet ground would accumulate “penalty marks” for their refusal to obey orders, which obviously no student would want in his or her school record.

Many students from various schools have complained that prefects have the liberty to threaten students with the “penalty marks” because they have the backing of the discipline teachers.

I think that in the Shah Alam school, the prefect should have consulted the discipline teacher to get feedback as the situation required some discretion, which only an adult, in this case, the disciplinary teacher, would have been able to decide and resolve.

There have been other instances when students have been punished severely for minor “offences” which they say was because of “power crazy” prefects, who have misrepresented the facts to the discipline teachers.

On the other hand, there are also prefects who want to be more tactful when handling their schoolmates, but they are “shouted at” and have been instructed by discipline teachers not to question their authority.

Prefects then blindly follow the orders, and ultimately the discipline teachers consciously or unconsciously create these monsters.

While some form of “policing” is required, schools must revise their guidelines to ensure that they select the right candidates to be discipline teachers and prefects, to bring about order in schools. Also, it is only common sense that prefects at lower secondary school level, be given tasks that oversee students of their age group and below.

Making the junior prefects enforce school guidelines on older students in Forms Five and Six, will be seen as an insult by the seniors, and school authorities must refrain from this. Also it is not in our Asian culture to show disrespect to someone older.

School authorities should realise that it is not right to gloat over somebody’s suffering, humiliation and shame, instead a less hostile and conciliatory approach should be taken when dealing with students.

ANTI BULLY Via e-mail

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