This is the season when the politicians will take centre stage. They will be the talking point on every occasion. On the campaign trail, there will be the usual rhetoric. Some will tout the development they have been pursuing, while others will focus on what has not happened.
They will also be the butt end of jokes. This past week someone told be a most humorous story. It goes like this. Some terrorists had kidnapped the entire parliament of Guyana. Of course the terrorists had their demand.
The leader sent a message to the people of Guyana; pay a hefty ransom or their parliamentarians would be burnt alive. There was this long line of motorists and someone was walking the line seeking contributions.
When they reached on man who was late to join the line, he asked what all the backup in traffic was about. The man seeking the donation told him what was happening. To this the man asked, how the contribution was going.
The man told him very well. The average contribution was a gallon of gasoline.
People always pick on the politicians as if they are responsible for every possible evil. If a man walks into a pothole, he would blame the government. If he falls into a canal, he would blame the government for not filling up the canal.
Last week, a parent walked into a school and assaulted a teacher. There was the video recording of the incident that took place in the presence of the primary school children.
In the end, the matter reached the police and both parent and teacher have been charged. They are to appear in court this week.
The decision to charge the teacher has not gone down well. The President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union was quick to comment that the teacher was assaulted at her place of work. If anything, she was defending herself, but she has been charged with assault.
That must be sheer laziness on the part of the police, who are quick to wash their hands of any matter and allowing the court to make all the decisions. This is not usually the case in any country. The police do their investigation and then refer the matter to the court.
The union president also noted that the parent who assaulted another teacher has still not been charged. Some say that that matter has been swept under the rug.
We talk of indiscipline in schools, but we don’t talk about parents refusing to allow schools to mould their children. The result is that teachers do less than they should. Some say that they would rather sweat over their own children at home than to sweat thanklessly over other people’s children.
I suppose this increase in attacks on teachers is due to the fact that increasingly, men are moving away from the classroom. In my days at school, from primary right through to university, most of the teachers and lecturers were men.
Men were the role models for the boys. The result was that very few ventured into criminal enterprise. At the same time, corporal punishment was the order of the day. It was unheard of for parents entering a school to pick a fight with a teacher.
This absence of men from the classroom may be as a result of the pay. These days, men seem to want lots of money, without recognising that they often do not have the qualification to command high salaries.
The result is that they now venture into the gold fields, become minibus operators and conductors or simply become thieves and robbers.
Of course, there are those who expect the politicians to effect a change in this situation. There is the belief that the politicians should pay better than they do. I am not an economist, so I do not know what impact pay increases would have on the national economy.
In some quarters, now that oil is being sold and Guyana is expected to earn some money, people expect to see the rewards in many ways, not least among them being salary increases in certain areas.
We are building more schools, but there is no programme to encourage more men to become teachers. Perhaps such a programme should start in the home, but then again, parents always want their children to aim for the sky.
People would come seeking jobs and sometimes I would ask them about their lack of interest in the education system. The answers are as varied as the people themselves.
Some talk about the indiscipline in the schools and some talk about the threat of violence. Nobody believes that he can make a change.
Of course, violence in schools is not limited to Guyana. Recently, I saw on the international newscasts, cases of teachers responding, and some of them are being charged for over-reacting.
On the present campaign trail, I do not hear anything about education. I hear a lot about the sugar workers. I hear about retraining them to do what they may be capable of. I also hear about stipend for children, but I do not hear anything about continuity in the field of education.
Perhaps as many believe, it is all about getting the hands on whatever proceeds there will be from oil. Politicians all want to be rich. There is a focus on Nigeria, where the politicians enjoy the wealth from oil as a result of corruption.
It is the same in Russia, although not much focus is placed on that country.
People talk about the poverty in Nigeria, but no one is talking about the poverty in other rich countries, including the United States where there is poverty especially in the southern states.
(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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