THE frequent exhibition of weapons confiscated from students by police—the latest of which took place last week—is a clear indication that we are nowhere near instituting discipline in the country’s schools. This is most disturbing.
We say so because we are yet to hear of any action by the authorities in this regard. In fact, we frequently get the impression that no one really cares that deviance among students has reached the stage it has, simply because there is nothing to indicate any action by the authorities that would help deter such incidents, far less put a stop to them completely.
The latest display of weapons seized was not put on by the regular Police Force but rather by the recently established City Police which has been playing a timely and effective role in fighting crime in the city in recent weeks. We believe that the Castries Constituency Council has more than justified the effort and investment that has gone into creating this new unit as part of the wider plan to help restore some kind of order in the capital.
What is worrying though is that other state agencies are not playing their part in combatting crime as they should. Young men going to a school with knives and cutlasses and pieces of iron could well be an indication that very soon our schools will become battlegrounds for student unrest, with all its dire consequences.
The weapons factor, however, is only one element of the breakdown of discipline in the school system that has been obvious for so long. We continue to be disappointed that the Ministry of Education has been so lethargic in enforcing new disciplinary measures for students in response to the sharp deterioration in habits and behaviour that has been so commonplace for some time now.
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever claiming that we are concerned about escalating crime when students are graduating into this circle, right under our eyes and we behave as though we are unaware. The stark truth in all this is that we are losing huge numbers of our young men and women to the social ills of the society, and we are losing them without a fight.
Gangs, drugs, teen pregnancies, alcohol abuse, socializing publicly after hours are among the issues facing students. We tend to concentrate on our young men, but the practices of our young women are equally threatening and worrying and it is time we, as a nation, sat up and took note.
A quick look around our streets on afternoons after school, especially in Castries, will confirm how serious the problem of student indiscipline has become and the more we bury our heads in the sand and think it is something that will one day suddenly disappear, the more it will spread and eventually engulf us all.