In the wake of the controversy over the payment of fees for SC and HSC 2016 to the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate, some students have been claiming in the press that students absent themselves from school, especially in the third term, because, among other reasons, some teachers sleep in the class.
We are meant to understand that these teachers do not work as they should have. They kill time in unnecessary talks and do not give the best of themselves during this crucial period of revision. What is also implied is that they are slack and incompetent and therefore fail to perform to expectation. The students have the feeling that they are wasting their time in attending school.
It’s a serious allegation. How far it’s true or false, the public doesn’t know. Hence, there’s a need for a full enquiry into the matter because many questions demand clarifications.
For instance, have the students denounced the matter to their respective Rectors, and what has been the outcome? Have sanctions been taken? Has the matter gone up to the Ministry? Has the latter done anything about it? If yes, what exactly has it done to redress the ugly situation? If no, why hasn’t it?
If the students have not raised the question with their Rectors, why is it so? Have they had a talk with the teachers concerned? What has come out of it? Are the students lying?
Are they exaggerating or misrepresenting the issue to the public? If they are, this is equally serious and they must not be allowed to get away with it. Are they using the argument as a pretext in order to justify their absences and their refusal to settle the fees?
The public is confused about all these questions. The public is judging teachers in the light of the students’ declarations in the press, and even condemning them, without knowing the whole truth.
An enquiry might be a platform for the students to voice out their grievances about teachers who are sleeping in the class just like it might give the incriminated teachers the opportunity to explain themselves and set the record right.
In case it is found that the teachers have failed in their duty, they must accept the sanctions. They are paid from public funds, anyway. They have no right to get paid for a job to which they are not devoted. And if it is found that the students are wrong and have attempted to lie or distort the truth, they must be sanctioned as well. They cannot do or say whatever they want.
An enquiry might also cover wider issues like what are the root causes of absenteeism and what might be done about it. Educational reform must include the recurrent problem of absenteeism and whatever else goes along with it.
Exam-time is an important affair for everybody and we cannot afford to live in confusion and doubt.
Certain teachers are being blamed or accused for being unethical and unprofessional and we have yet to hear anything from the Ministry or the Unions about it. Without an enquiry, the credibility of teachers and the reputation of State-owned colleges are at stake.
A dynamic Minister of Education doesn’t allow things to stagnate. On the contrary, she identifies a problem, addresses it at the appropriate moment, and eventually proposes solutions. She acts in the larger interest of the nation.
The growing perception in the public is that this government is getting more and more unpopular due to its inactions, indecisions and other flagrant contradictions. The Minister of Education has a fine occasion here to overturn this perception by doing something concrete and to prove, at the same time, that she is worthy of the responsibility she has been given.