Back to School

January 11, 2022

Schools are back in session for the third term of the school calendar. The children were home for the Christmas break, and are now getting ready to resume their studies. We had a very rough time before the Christmas holiday break with students burning schools, others showing defiance by walking out of schools, pouring food rations out in the stores, and damaging school property.

At the Choice Club, we spent a great deal of time going around the schools trying to calm students down. The teachers were overwhelmed; they didn’t know how to handle the situation at the schools. Harsh punishment, which is what was recommended by the majority of the schools, only yielded defiance. Punishing those caught breaking school rules caused the rest of the students to riot. The teachers felt helpless as to what to do and finally settled on counselling and guidance for all the students; this solution turned out to help significantly.

Our mentorship classes, freely offered to the schools, help maintain discipline and create a good rapport between the teachers and the students as well as between the students and their parents and guardians. The age of the students we deal with is tricky; knowing how to handle them is key. We manage this by getting on their level. One has to be a friend to the teenagers while at the same time being firm on discipline. We teach the students how to be respectful to their teachers and parents while noting that disrespectful behaviour is a common part of teenage development; fortunately,  this stage usually changes. Positive communication helps the teenagers navigate challenges at school and helps avoid arguing, being defensive and talking back to their teachers and fellow students. Not all teenagers are rude or disrespectful, but disrespect is a common part of teenage growth and development. There are ways to communicate on the need for the teenagers to be respectful without resulting in punishment.

We urge the teachers to use humour when situations get out of hand. A shared laugh can break a stale-mate and lighten a situation. There is need to avoid mocking and ridiculing a student as this only causes anger and unnecessary tension. We talk to the students and try and understand why they behave the way they do. We give feedback to the teachers, so they know what to to watch for when dealing with the students. There are teachers who are known to make fun of students or to hate on them. This usually happens to students who perform poorly or have disciplinary issues. Instead of the teacers finding ways to help these students, they ridicule them in front of other students and teachers which only results in breeding bad blood.

As we get into the third term of school, we hope to see changed behaviour. We are hoping to see students who are organised, students who take notes in class and read them later during their free time, students that will form study groups and help each other with the aim of passing their exams. The Form 4 students will be finishing Secondary School and hoping to join colleges and higher institutions of learning in September, while the Standard 8 students will be joining Secondary School in April.

We are commited to doing all we can to help these students be the best that they can be. We guide and offer counseling without tiring. We are patient with the students, we don’t judge them, and we answer their questions, truthfully. We understand that the students are going through a tough period in their lives. They are struggling to balance school, their changing hormones, and pressure from home and at school. We are prepared to do our best to see that none of the students we mentor feel left out, unloved, or unappreciated.

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