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Saturday July 26, 2008

Use the cane only as a last resort, teachers

I AM still puzzled why many teachers still carry a cane in their hands in class. My grand niece at a Chinese primary school in Cheras complained that her teacher canes her and her classmates for mere spelling mistakes and other minor things.

Recently, we read in the newspapers of complaints from parents about such abuses. This is a violation of the Education Ministry's directives as well as the Education Act. It is high time that this practice be put to an end.

The rule is clear; only the head of school (or a teacher given permission by the head) can cane a pupil. Why is it then, that we still hear of complaints from school children and parents that teachers wield the cane on pupils, and at times even inflict marks?

For this I blame the school heads. If the school heads cannot discipline his teachers, his superiors must discipline him.

Teachers could resort to other forms of action to discipline students. If corporal punishment is necessary, it should be done as a last resort. It must not be used to intimidate a child to perform well academically.

Schools must resort to consultations with parents and guardians more often. When I was heading schools, I find this most effective. Many heads dread the fact that they have to meet parents and will only do so if they had no choice.

This is a wrong attitude. A child’s education is not solely the responsibility of the school but a joint effort with parents and guardians.

Parents must realise that it is their duty to follow the progress of their children in school, not only academically but in their total development. And, the best way to do so is to turn up when schools invite them during collection of examination results, parent-teacher association meetings, open day, etc.

Teachers too must make an attempt to get to know their students’ parents and guardians. In this way many problems can be solved. Schools must not only call parents and guardians in when problems arise. I make it a point to meet parents of pupils who have done great things in and for the school.

If I can’t get to speak to them, I send a letter of congratulations. This is a useful way to build good parents-school rapport.

I hope these little pointers would help us solve a lot of the problems in school.