Stop this dangerous kind of rivalry

Editorial, Normal

The National, Friday May 29th, 2015

 SCHOOL rivalries are common throughout the world. These extend from the spor­ting fields to debate halls and the classrooms or lecture theatres.

Schools rivalries are therefore part of the modern Papua New Guinea education environment. It is violence between and within schools such as we have seen repeatedly displayed in Lae and Port Moresby that is of grave concern.

Since it assumed office, the O’Neill Government has allocated hundreds of millions of kina to education because it believes that is the foundation for the country’s future.

No parent, teacher or guardian and certainly not the Government wants to see a generation of uneducated people whose only answer to any test or challenge is violence.

Nonetheless, there are groups of students in some high schools in the two cities who continue to defy authorities and take matters into their hands. These so-called students are not interested in education and their future development. They only go to school to instigate trouble and be part of the ensuing violence.

Repeated fighting among groups of students in Port Moresby in the past few weeks has prompted National Capital District Commission acting assistant secretary Sam Lora to call on police to come down hard on students involved in school fights around the city.

“Schools have rules in place for students to follow to express their grievances through the proper chain of command. Unfortunately, stu­dents take matters into their own hands by ignoring the rules. Police must come down hard on students who instigate fights by arresting them and sending them to jail.”

We agree with Lora that these students are old enough to understand right from wrong. It is encouraging to note that NCDC’s urban safety director Paul Kombo has instructed his city enforcement officers to keep a watch of students. 

As outgoing Education Secretary Dr Michael Tapo said recently, all disciplinary cases should be dealt with by the school authorities and if they don’t do their job then they should be replaced. 

“School administrations must establish a good working relationship with different authorities in the province and communities to minimise the disciplinary problems going on in schools, especially school fights. 

“Students who continue to be involved in school fights are jeopardising their future if they are expelled from their schools and parents  and citizens, school authorities and school boards need to put their heads together to come up with ways to stop school fights.”

There are many causes of school violence but whatever the reasons, the actions of the students who are responsible for instigating the fights must not be ignored or condoned by the relevant authorities, including parents and guardians. 

The continued violence within and between schools clearly demonstrates that the process of addressing grievances has failed and that students no longer respect authority and continue to take the law into their hands. 

There is such a thing called friendly rivalry – on the sporting field, in debating contests and in the academic arena where the schools and their students can strive to be champions. Everyone’s a winner unlike the battlefield.

Indeed, it is our society’s obligation and duty to assist in controlling violent behaviour among school children who are our future leaders. 

That duty begins at home with parents and guardians who must manage their children’s behaviour and supervise their activities.

Teachers impart knowledge and should not bear the brunt of failures by parents and guardians to instil discipline and common sense in their children.

In this day and age, most parents tend to push this responsibility to teachers and the school authorities. Many of them will always blame the schools and education authorities for their children’s moral and academic failures.

It is a competitive world out there and the children who will succeed later in life are those who pursue their goals and dreams through hard work and determination. Many young people, by their nature, are aggressive. It falls then to their mentors – parents, guardians and teachers – to nurture and channel this aggression towards achieving positive goals.

The bottom line is that violence should not be a feature of this aggression.