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Statement on “Discipline; The Future of The Ghanaian Child In Ancilla School” by Mrs. Sheila Naah Boamah, Chief Executive Officer, Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) Graduation Ceremony of Ancilla Primary And Junior High School – Haasto.
02-08-2016

The Head Mistress- Rev Sis Juliana Gyamfi, PTA Chairman, Special Guest of Honor, Teachers and school administrators, All the Graduating classes, Parents, Guardians, Family and Friends and of course, Pupils of Ancilla Primary and JHS, our Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

Events like this are always proud moments for parents, family members, loved ones, and teachers. Permit me therefore to join well-wisher to say Ayeeko to all the graduating classes, I sincerely pray that you will all grow in good health, knowledge and in wisdom as you grow in your academic pursuits. Amen.

As a parent with children in Ancillia School, I feel extremely humbled to be invited a second time, as Guest Speaker to another elegant Ancilla Graduation ceremony. Just like last year’s event; this year’s theme on “Discipline and the future of our Children in Ancilla School”, is an important issue for every family, the community, societies and the nation as a whole and it is therefore commendable that Ancillia School has chosen to deliberate on discipline as the theme for this year’s graduation.

School discipline is important because our children cannot attain academic excellence if they are not disciplined. Furthermore, school discipline will remain important to us because in the exceptional situations where discipline has gone wrong, the consequences has been disturbing to parties involved and has resulted sometimes in the disruption of school activities, prolonged police cases, and in the worse cases permanent disability or loss of precious lives.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished parents and friends, discipline is defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience”. Punishment however can be both positive and negative.

School discipline on the other hand, is “the way a school is organized to ensure that majority of its members achieve their intended purpose for being in school and grow to become socially and emotionally matured adults. Discipline is one of the tools used by schools to foster acceptable and appropriate behavior in our children.

Interestingly, we belong to a generation where children can go to school from an early age of a year and half to about 15 years, On the whole, therefore, our children will spend about 13years minimum, mostly in the care of school authorities between nursery and junior high.

Fortunately or unfortunately, these years are; and will remain some of the most important periods in their life where the fundamentals of their character and mindset will be shaped, and their personalities and orientation developed.

Mr. Chairman, Head Mistress and Teachers, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Scholars are of the view that even though punishment is a form of instilling discipline as indicated in the definition, for punishment to be effective at instilling discipline, the modes of punishment used must not aim at causing the child suffering or pain. It is for this particular reason that teachers and parents are advised not to punish children at the peak of their anger.

To administer the right discipline for an offence for the right age, at the right time can be one of the most important, yet difficult responsibility of every teacher or parent. The primary reason why we discipline should not be to cause the child shame; negative guilt; a sense of abandonment or a loss of interest in School but rather discipline must be aimed to;

  • Help children discover socially appropriate ways to learn from their mistakes,
  • Help children learn how to manage their emotions in positive ways
  • Teach children new life skills and protect them from danger
  • Teach children how to manage their behavior, and
  • Teach children to solve problems and adopt a sense of responsibility and control,

As parents, we mostly feel aggrieved when our kids are disciplined by school authorities in their line of duty. Teachers on the other hand feel parents are unsupportive when it comes to enforcing discipline in schools. It does not come as a surprise, therefore, when some teachers say: many parents do not even know the real character of their children. The reality is that the modern parent is busy with work, and therefore would mostly “outsource” child care and child upbringing to the schools, House helps and other family members who may not even be educated themselves. For many parents, including myself, however, we are shocked when we are called to answer to our children’s misconduct, confirming the fact that, as parents we indeed do not know our children.

Ladies and Gentlemen now let me situate the theme in the literature. According to the research, approaches to discipline will vary significantly among Cultures, Races, Countries and even Continents. The Asian parents, for example, enforce discipline mostly through physical means and what is described as “tough love”. By this, Asian parents subject their children to different methods of physical, verbal and behavioral disciplinary methods including;

  • Light smack on their buttocks,
  • Canings,
  • reprimanding;
  • insulting as a form of reverse psychology;
  • getting the child to kneel down facing the wall, or
  • sending them off to their rooms without a meal.

Asians are of the view that their children are capable of excelling at anything and where the kids fails, it is because the child did not put in enough effort and hence should be punished to “sit up”. Therefore, What the American will consider child abuse, the Asians will simply regard as the most efficient way of inculcating good values and ethics in their children.

For the American parents, children must be constantly happy and therefore they tend to focus on their child’s emotional and mental well-being. They are extremely sensitive to their child’s self-esteem. The American parent will “sweetly” ask their kids to do their best. Discipline for them is primarily based on positive reinforcement. American parents are very nurturing and loving towards their kids. They behave like friends to their children instead of an authoritative figure, having casual interactions all the time, and working things out between themselves, when one of them is unhappy.

From my observation, Mr. Chairman, the Ghanaian exhibits a blend of the two and the approach used at home or in a school is mainly influenced by the class of school, and/or the background of the parents. Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses but, personally, I would rather show my children Asian “tough love” and support them to become the best. Whichever mode is being applied in school or at home must be fair, firm, reasonable and consistently applied to promote a sense of trust between the child and the teachers/parent.

School authorities will mostly discipline our children for various reasons including; excessive talking in the classroom/library , not doing their homework, use of indecent language/dressing/ hair cut or gestures, insolence toward school staff, stealing, fighting or attacking school personnel, throwing objects in class or around school grounds, defacing or vandalizing school property, loitering in unauthorized places, dishonesty, rudeness, absenteeism from class or school, leaving class or school without permission, substance abuse, bullying, poor personal hygiene, cheating, extortion of other students etc.

From the list above, Mr. Chairman, it is clear that without school discipline the school environment will be unsafe for everyone. As partners therefore, we must be supportive in helping schools train our children with reasonable skills set, relevant for social cohesion. I will entreat school authorities to remember that every child is born differently and therefore, the disciplinary action taken for every child needs to be adjusted according to “child’s personality. For children with special needs, parents and teacher must use discipline modes that support the child’s condition.

Some common School disciplinary measures are:

  • To ignore the child until the child shows remorse for his/her misconduct
  • Cane the child
  • Sack the child from class/school,
  • Get the child to kneel down as a deterrent to others and to reflect upon their actions for an extended period of time
  • Isolate the child,
  • Get the child to clean around or
  • Call in parents for a chat.

Mr. Chairman, Head Mistress and Teachers, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, practicing consistent discipline are one of the most important ways by which we can support children to develop. The goal of discipline is to guide the child to behave in a socially acceptable way.

Discipline is crucial, because it promotes the child’s self-control, teaches them to take responsibility for their actions, and helps them make thoughtful choices about how they treat themselves and others.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, There’s an old Chinese saying that, “To be beaten is a sign of affection; to be scolded is a sign of love”. Discipline isn’t about showing a dog who is boss; it’s about taking responsibility for a living creature, therefore, before we discipline let’s remember that children need love, especially when they do not deserve it.

Thank you all for your kind attention.

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