Time to end school rivalries

Editorial, Normal

The National,Wednesday March 9th, 2016

 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 PNG 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 own 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.

Continuous fighting among groups of students in Port Moresby in the past few weeks has prompted National Capital District Commission 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,” a City Hall spokesman said.

“Police must come down hard on students who instigate fights by arresting them and sending them to jail.”

We agree with City Hall that these students are old enough to understand right from wrong.

It is also encouraging to note that NCDC’s urban safety director Paul Kombo has instructed his city enforcement officers to keep a watch of students. “Children are sent to schools to learn but involved with the wrong crowd.”

As a former Education Secretary said, 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 totally failed and that students no longer respect authority and continue to take the law into their own 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 behavior and supervise their activities. Teachers impart knowledge and should not bear the brunt of failures by parents and guardians to instill 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.