A bad example | Daily News

A bad example

The juvenile conduct of school principals opposite the Isurupaya on Wednesday was despicable and harrowing, bordering on lunacy which is unbecoming of individuals entrusted with not only the education of the young but also moulding their character to be worthy citizens of this country. School principals were shown on television going berserk, attempting to storm the Education Ministry demanding to see the Minister or the Secretary in order to resolve their grievances. They also caused a huge traffic jam by staging a sit-in on the road opposite Isurupaya and one of the principals was also seen banging on the windscreen of a Ministry vehicle trying to leave the Isurupaya. They also engaged in heated arguments with motorists who tried to weave their vehicles through the melee, including a three wheeler carrying a pregnant woman. They were shouting slogans and displaying banners - conduct unbecoming of those whose primary duty is to instill discipline into students and guide them to be useful citizens.

By their conduct, school principals lost all right to be treated with dignity and respect and it is arguable if they would ever again be able to maintain discipline in their schools for the scenes on television would have been watched by students to whom the worst possible example was set by the principals. These are the very men and women who at school go to great lengths to instill good values into the students and moreover inspire awe in their young charges by their demeanour and deportment.

Would the students who watched the rowdy scenes on television where their “Loku Sirs and Madams” were almost trading blows with Education Ministry officials now give a tuppence for discipline? What would be the future of our school education be if one day students react violently against principals who attempt to punish them for offences committed in school? Have we set the stage for rampant indiscipline in schools with students calling the shots now that they had their fill of how their so-called guardians behave? Who among Wednesday's protesters can claim the moral right to discipline the students?

In the past, parents often sought recourse in the counsel of teachers and principals to get their erring children on the right path, be it in regard to their education or their conduct. It is doubtful if the parents who watched the scenes would ever again seek such advice and counsel from the principals.

It certainly would be mind-boggling to even imagine such scenes in the past. The school Principal of yore commanded respect and honour not only within his school but also from the society in general. One often hears of the good old Iskoley Mahattaya who was patronized by the villagers for his advice and guidance. Such was the esteem in which teachers and principals were held. Monetary gains and other benefits were furthest from the minds of these souls, their sole aim being the education and future of their charges.

Alas, times have changed and today some school principals are being arrested for bribery and corruption. The situation can only get worse if remedial action is not taken by the authorities. After all, what is at stake is the future of young generation who are increasingly being abandoned by those responsible. First it was the teachers who withdrew from online education during the pandemic by diverting their energies, instead, towards winning their demands.

Now we have principals creating a bad impression on the young minds by their unbecoming conduct. The principals have not only cast a slur on what is regarded as a noble profession but also placed themselves in a position in line with run-of-the-mill trade unions which can be seen at the Lipton Circus carrying placards and shouting themselves hoarse. The principals as an educated lot are expected to act more soberly and follow the accepted norm of resorting to negotiations to win over demands rather than plunge into trade union action - and a violent one at that.

By their collective action, the principals, who ought to know better, have opened the floodgates for indiscipline to thrive in a big way in the school system by forfeiting their hold on the student community which could snowball into something bigger and dangerous. Therefore, at least for the sake of the country's future generation this is a plea to our principals and teachers that when they decide on action to persuade the Government to meet their demands all such actions be within the norms of decency and they conform to the dignity and honour in which the teaching profession is generally held by society.

They should also always ensure that their deeds and actions do not influence impressionable young minds to veer towards the wrong path. Teachers and principals have done much harm to their profession and reputation by their unprecedented disorderly conduct. What is now left for them is to try to salvage at least some of the aura of the teaching profession and regain the respect and honour which their breed once commanded, though, admittedly, this will be a Herculean task.


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