It does not escape notice that the only political dialogue is about criticism and condemnation. Not that this is anything new.
Some time back, I did write that civil behaviour is something absent from the current crop of politicians. In days gone by, there was rhetoric, but in their social moments they enjoyed each other’s company.
Today it is about us and them. No matter the good one side does, the other would find faults. Recently, there was an announcement of a pay hike for public servants. The recipients were happy, but the politicians came up with the idea that the pay hike was illegal.
Many other issues were illegal, but the silence that followed was deafening. It was illegal to secretly sell the shares the country had in Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company. But that did not stop the sale. The local workers actually petitioned to buy those shares, but they were ignored.
It was illegal to divert state funds to construct what almost became a private facility—the Marriott. Rather than address the illegality, the nation heard about the need for a five-star hotel, because Guyana did not have space.
At the same time, the present beneficiaries claimed that the construction was a waste of money, that it was denying local investors in the hotel industry an opportunity to capitalise on their investment.
All the talk and cross talk about the hotel is now history. The idea that the hotel would be a white elephant is now a distant memory, because the hotel is making money to clear its indebtedness, pay the staff, and entertain visitors to the country.
Last week, the Education Ministry announced a ban on school Christmas parties. The noise was overwhelming. Even among reporters, there was talk that the Ministry had gone too far. I supported the ban for a series of reasons.
Many of these parties degenerated into clashes. People who were no longer students and who had taken to the streets would turn up. There would be fights. There were also rapes, because alcohol was sneaked into the parties.
Some of the men, because they were no longer boys, would spike drinks and unwitting girls would be almost helpless after drinking the spiked drink. There have been many such incidents, but some did not make public notice, either because of the embarrassment or because the schools wanted to protect their reputation.
Many of us have seen the end-of-year fights at the car parks. People who were no longer returning to school, moved to settle old scores with unmatched violence.
One critic said that the schools should increase their supervision of these parties. Assuming that this is done, it would be a case of perhaps thirty of forty teachers trying to keep an eye on eight hundred children.
I remember when not so long ago, there was a sex scandal in a school where all the teachers were present. The children simply found a lonely place that was not patrolled. The fall out was severe. The names of the children were all but kept out of the press, but the country knew who they were.
There was another case where some twins were involved in a scandal. Things reached the stage where the United States Embassy revoked visas.
I don’t recall people apportioning blame on any school or Minister. It was seen as a case of children capitalising on any loophole that existed and there were many. In fact, there are so many that children no longer fall through the cracks. They fall into chasms, with the result that the criminals are so young. It is not that attempts were not made to supervise them.
Minister of Education Dr. Nicolette Henry, in the wake of a fight at a city school, was said to remark that fights do occur in schools. And she is right, except that there was always condign action.
When I was at school many decades ago, there was a fight that my class mates who are all over the world would remember. My school was an all-boys affair back then. It was during a break and two ‘big’ boys got into fisticuffs. It was a bloody affair.
One boy ended up in hospital with a nervous breakdown. The other was suspended.
It was during the tenure of one of the critics against the ban of the Christmas parties that a schoolgirl killed a parent in the school compound. Don’t tell me that there was no supervision.
My grandson, as a student of another city school, was stabbed by a girl for no apparent reason. I went to the school and the head teacher in the presence of the girl’s mother said that she would suspend the girl. That girl later went on to kill her stepfather one afternoon in Plaisance.
Teachers already have their hands full. They too have families. They could do without trying to avoid fights and other untoward behaviour at Christmas parties. And if they happen to become too involved in separating fights, they could attract hostility from parents.
A few weeks ago, there were reports of a parent going to a city school and beating a teacher. This was not the first time that such a thing has happened.
At another city school, there was a boy who went to Tiger Bay and brought friends to fight a teacher who had disciplined him in school.
Back then, again when I was at school, there were house parties. There were ten houses, and each had a party. Supervision was at a premium, but that didn’t stop boys from smuggling alcohol into the school and having a drink.
I remember one boy getting drunk, perhaps from a swig. The teachers never found out who brought the alcohol.
Perhaps those desirous of having a Christmas party could consult their teachers, pool their resources, and have a small but tidy affair. If the Education Ministry feels that schools should not be the venue, then there are many other locations, not least among them the places where so many children go for private lessons.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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