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    Sannah

    Anxiety of the collapse of respect is what preoccupies the minds of people nowadays, especially the elders. We are, one fears, in danger of becoming inured to disrespect. Examples of guttersnipery are all around: from unpleasant vulgarity (spitting and swearing) to the contempt with which a sleazy political class treats its electorate.

    People are littering the streets, seemingly unaware of the mess piling up. Litter is annoying, but in the grand scheme of a society that has traded personal responsibility for blame transfer, it is little more than a pointer to a deeper malaise: the corrosion of deference in our schools, the abandonment of manners on our streets and, yes, the death of respect for civility and integrity. We are close to the point where ethical behaviour is regarded as an affliction to be pitied, a loser’s burden.

    Concepts like duty, obligation, responsibility and honour have come to seem antiquated and irrelevant. Emotions like guilt, shame, contrition and remorse have been deleted from our vocabulary, for are we not all entitled to self-esteem? The still, small voice of conscience is rarely heard these days. Conscience has been outsourced, delegated away.

    Individual wrongdoings are, increasingly, an issue not for those concerned, but the state, which dishes out rights in return for unquestioning obeisance. In place of self-restraint, we have installed an all-embracing culture of grievance. Culprits have learnt to claim victim status.

    Moreover, there is barely a distinction between legality and morality. Freedom means pursuing that with which it is possible to get away. If everyone else is gaming the system, only a mug would choose to do otherwise.

    espect, of course, is a two-way process. For a system based on mutual respect to function properly, those at the top must show the way. This, sadly, is where our political leaders fall short. It’s all very well ministers cooking up respect agendas for hoi polloi, whose votes they need, but how much respect is shown to those same people from on high?

    Solutions:
    – Implement an education system similar to the Japanese’s. Instill manners before knowledge.
    In Japanese schools, the students don’t take any exams until they reach grade four (the age of 10). They just take small tests. It is believed that the goal for the first 3 years of school is not to judge the child’s knowledge or learning, but to establish good manners and to develop their character. Children are taught to respect other people and to be gentle to animals and nature. They also learn how to be generous, compassionate, and empathetic. Besides this, the kids are taught qualities like grit, self-control, and justice.

    Abolish private tuition and let the students spend most of the times in schools. Educational institutions should not only focus on the knowledge aspect but should encourage more recreational activities so as to encourage the students. Let them participate in the cleaning of the premises and organise after-school workshops. This will encourage the pupils to attend to schools. Private tuition should be banned in Mauritius; teachers are no longer giving their best in schools because they earn much more than in schools. In addition, the private tuition takes all of the free time for the kids. When will the kids learn to enjoy life if at the very early age, he/she is being forced to take tuition?

    – Parent-teacher collaboration:
    School teachers are doing a great job. If there were many good teachers in good old days, there were some bad teachers too. Same is the case today; there are good as well as some bad teachers. Why do we only focus on the bad and don’t look at the larger goodness part of the teaching fraternity?

    We are not paying them great salaries but let us at least give them respect and regard for what they do for our children. In the larger context of the society they are doing a yeoman service.

    But today, do parents realise this? Does the media realise this? No; unfortunately many parents look at schools only from the point of view of ROI – return on investment – and media treats them as a punching bag.

    Instead of being collaborative, parents are discordant. They themselves are unable to tame their children and often blame it on the ugly environment and peer pressure. Many parents do not want to take a stand at home to discipline their kids or be a little strict with them. Some of them may be afraid to do so for whatever good reasons; and others prefer to look the other way.

    As parents, if you cannot do it then at least let the schools do their job. If parents have no time as well as gumption to teach values, life skills, punctuality and discipline, then outsource it to the schools. Let the schools do it for them.

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