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The figures prove it, according to a report submitted to the National Assembly by the Minister of Education, indiscipline in schools has reached proportions described as being out of control. Indeed, a 440% increase in cases has been recorded in nine years. In the following interview, PTr MP Mahend Gungapersad gives his point of view on the subject and proposes solutions.

The figures prove it, according to a report submitted to the National Assembly by the Minister of Education, indiscipline in schools has reached proportions described as being out of control. Indeed, a 440% increase in cases has been recorded in nine years. In the following interview, PTr MP Mahend Gungapersad gives his point of view on the subject and proposes solutions.

How do you explain the increase in cases of indiscipline in schools over the last nine years, from 55 cases in 2015 to 297 in 2024?

This alarming increase in cases of indiscipline in schools, from 55 cases in 2015 to 297 in 2024, reflects a deep crisis, which requires an urgent and concerted response.

What factors contributed to the significant increase in cases of violence in primary schools, from 8 cases in 2015 to 60 in 2024?

Among the contributing factors, we observe increasing social fragmentation, exacerbated by persistent economic inequalities. The impact of social media and increased pressure on young people to succeed are also increasing tensions at school. Investment in effective prevention and psychosocial support programmes is imperative to reverse this worrying trend.

The increase in cases of violence in primary schools, from 8 cases in 2015 to 60 in 2024, reveals an unacceptable deterioration in the safety of children in our education system. The underlying reasons include growing socio-economic imbalances, gaps in the management of disruptive behaviour, and a lack of adequate resources for psychological support for students in difficulty. We must strengthen school security arrangements and invest in continuous training for teachers to better manage these crisis situations.

How do you explain the increase in cases of bullying in primary schools, going from almost non-existent in 2015 to 27 cases in 2024?

This increase highlights issues of insufficient monitoring and inadequate awareness of the consequences of bullying. It is imperative to establish clear protocols for reporting and supporting victims, while educating students about mutual respect and tolerance from a young age.

Why do you think that cases of indiscipline have almost quadrupled in colleges, going from 40 in 2015 to 158 in 2024?

This requires a deep introspection in our approach. Academic and social pressures on students, combined with a lack of human resources (school psychologists and counselors), exacerbate deviant behaviors. We must invest massively in these essential resources to ensure an educational environment conducive to learning and student well-being.

The figures clearly show that there is a serious problem regarding indiscipline in schools, just like Law & Order in society. When Mauritian society is sick, Mauritian schools also go bad. The multiple cases of indiscipline in our schools also reflect how the evil has not been identified and like a forest fire is spreading dangerously. Yet, we only talk about official figures and reported cases. Imagine the magnitude of the problem in reality.

Indiscipline is a real nightmare for teachers, school principals, students and parents. Indiscipline has a direct impact on the performance of schools and brings in its wake other conflict, emotional, administrative and school dropout problems.

Do schools have enough resources (counselors, psychologists and security guards) to manage indiscipline and support students?

Significant improvements are needed in the resources available in schools to manage indiscipline and support students. Counselors, psychologists and security officers must not only be present, but also adequately trained to address the specific needs of students and prevent incidents before they occur.

Ask the stakeholders for their opinion and you will be surprised by the discouragement that is eating away at the school environment. What concrete steps have been taken to combat or reduce the problem of indiscipline in schools? The figures speak for themselves.

Where did the 34 Discipline Masters mentioned in the 2019-2020 Budget go? Why did the number of Educational Psychologists decrease from 34 in the 2023-2024 Budget to 22 in the 2024-2025 Budget?

Teachers, overloaded with responsibilities, cannot solve everything. They lack human resources, adequate support to face new challenges and a radical change in the balance of power between school and family.

In your opinion, has the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the increase in school indiscipline?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly increased existing challenges related to school indiscipline. Disruptions to traditional education, increased social isolation, and family tensions due to lockdowns have contributed to an increase in disruptive behaviors and anxiety among students. We must adapt our educational strategies to respond to these new realities and to effectively support affected students and teachers.

But COVID-19 is a convenient excuse, because it is used wrongly and indiscriminately to explain almost all the major ills of our society. Does the ministry have an official report to this effect? ​​Has research been done to assess the impact of COVID-19 on student behavior? I don't think it has been done.

This is unfortunate.

Do you believe that technology and social media play a role in the increase in indiscipline and bullying at school?

Technology and social media play an undeniable role in increasing indiscipline and bullying. They provide platforms for cyberbullying and the dissemination of inappropriate behavior, requiring increased regulation and integrated digital education from the early school years. Awareness programs and partnerships with parents are crucial to promote responsible use of technology among young people. The misbehavior of children in the school environment reflects a little bit of social degradation, loss of human values, change in mentality, loss of bearings, lack of respect for authority and fragmentation of the family unit.

In your opinion, what mechanisms should be put in place to combat bullying in primary and secondary schools?

It is necessary to take stock of the situation to understand the factors that generate similar behaviors. We cannot have a “one size fits all” solution. The problem is multidimensional and will require a targeted approach. Early rehabilitation of unruly individuals is essential to secure the family and society as a whole.

“It is imperative to invest in effective prevention and psychosocial support programs to reverse this worrying trend.”

Should parents and the community also be involved in the fight against indiscipline in schools?

The problem cannot be solved without the sustained and sustained support of parents and the community because the school does not operate in a vacuum. They are all interconnected and the problems are often closely related.

What is your position on disciplinary sanctions for bad behavior?

We need to have a humane but firm approach. Children need to be taught the difference between what is feasible and what is not. They need to realize that a bad action will result in disciplinary consequences depending on its magnitude.

Overloaded teachers can't fix everything”

Do you think the Ministry of Education should change its methods to reduce school indiscipline?

The Ministry of Education should listen to teachers and school principals. They have a lot to suggest, but they are not being listened to. They have been silent for 10 years. They do not dare to speak out for fear of being labelled anti-government. Telling the truth, telling it like it is, is frowned upon. We are suffering and indiscipline is getting out of hand.

To effectively combat bullying, we must implement comprehensive training programs for teachers and students, focusing on recognizing the signs of bullying early and creating a safe and inclusive school climate. Actively involving parents and the community in these efforts is essential to create a common front against bullying.

“Indiscipline is a real nightmare for teachers, school principals, students and parents of students”

We must also develop new psychological support programmes for students who are victims of violence and harassment, ensuring access to qualified professionals and establishing ongoing support mechanisms within schools.

As regards disciplinary sanctions, they must be applied in a fair and equitable manner, taking into account individual circumstances while aiming to make students responsible for their actions. It is essential that sanctions are accompanied by educational measures aimed at preventing recidivism and promoting the social reintegration of the students concerned.

Finally, the Ministry of Education must take a proactive approach to adapt its methods and policies to the evolving challenges related to school indiscipline. This includes initiatives such as strengthening teacher training, improving psychological support resources, and integrating educational programs focused on the prevention and management of disruptive behavior.

These measures must be supported by strong political commitment and adequate allocation of resources to ensure a safe and effective education system in Mauritius.

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