Contradicts the school's commitment to providing education in a third world country where huge girls education remains a challenge. It also contradicts the government of Zambia;s efforts to scale up the number of girls in school.
To - MS. Scholastic Namangala Banda
The Head, St. Joseph’s Secondary School (Chivuna), Monze, Zambia
Re: THE EXPULSION OF FIVE ELEVENTH GRADE STUDENTS AT ST. JOSEPH’S SECONDARY SCHOOL (CHIVUNA), MONZE
We, the students, ex-students, parents and friends of St. Joseph’s Secondary School (Chivuna) in Monze are concerned by the School administration’s unilateral decision to expel five eleventh (11) grade students who were found with a cell phone on 29th May 2013 while doing their Laundry.
It has come to our attention that the school has put in place a rule that does not allow students to own or be found in possession of a cell phone at school and when the five girls were found with one, the school decided that they will expel them from the school permanently.Parents were immediately called to pick up their children from the school and were provided with ‘forced transfer’ letters and advised to look for school for their children elsewhere.
It has since also come to light that you as the school Head Teacher insists that this decision was reached upon in order to deter other children from using personal phones in future.
While as we appreciate the efforts by the school to enforce rules on things like cell phones that may be destructive to school routines and may have negative effects on the ability by the student to concentrate on their studies while in school, We, the undersigned feel the decision to permanently expel the five children without a written warning and before even seeking audience with the parents, is extremely harsh and detrimental to these girls and the school at large.
We support your efforts in instilling discipline in the students while you are their parent in the absence of their parents at the boarding facility. However, you being acting parent for boarders implies that you must find constructive ways of dealing with rule breaking that is typical of children and not lose the opportunity to correct children by treating them in a dictatorial and cruel way.
In addition to the fact that this reaction is dictatorial and cruel, it is contrary to natural justice and contradicts many policies, directives and initiatives spearheaded by thegovernment of the Republic of Zambia under the Ministry of Education that promote girls education asa key corner stone of national development. You will agree that Zambia has been putting in place many efforts to scale up the numbers of girls that access and complete education.These efforts are ranging from increasing infrastructure by building new schools, introducing the re-entry policy and affirmative actions. Many of these initiatives are a direct response to persistent gender gaps in education.
Furthermore, your administration’s decision to expel five girls, almost in their final year, from school comes at a critical moment when the government is struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Education by 2015.
In addition this decision is contradictory to the Moto of Chivuna ‘Education for integral development’ which emphasises the need for ensuring that our daughters are fully provided with every support to finish school
We are concerned that this action also brings the name of the Catholic Church in disrepute. You will agree that aside from the church being a leading contributor and advocate for universal and quality education as well as progress of our national, it has also shown compassion, constructive criticism and constructive resolution of many more challenging societal problems.
We have been informed that contrary to the best practice of many leading national learning institutions, your decision was without any attempt to engage the parents to see how the girls could be corrected.For children, whose parents had never been summoned on any incident of bad behaviour, we find this appalling.
While acknowledging the commitment that Chivuna to provide girls education where Christian morals/values are offered since august 1961, We seek reassurance from you and the school Board that after more than 50 years of progressive growth, you are not going back on Chivuna’s primary goal and commitment to ensure that the girls in Zambia will have equal access and chances of staying in school and finishing high school as their brothers.
We therefore ask the school to:
To build appropriate, fair and transparent child friendly disciplinary rules, policies and procedures that involves not only school Administrators butparents and pupils as well;
Repeal the decision to expel the five girls and engage in constructive dialogue with the aggrieved parents and all stakeholders to ensure that the girls are fully reprimanded on their mistake as they return to the school;
Initiate discussions with the parents on the best way to handle the issue of students owning and possessing cell phones. There are many examples of good practices from other schools in the country faced with similar challenges.
Adhere to the Government policies and uphold all government efforts to scale the numbers of girls that access and complete education by ensuring that children that come to St. Joseph’s Secondary School are assisted as much as possible to stay in school and finish their education;
Ensure that the school administration and teachers are equipped with necessary skills and tools to deal with adolescents;
We would like to call upon:
The Zambian Episcopal Conference, the Catholic Dioceses of Monze and the Catholic Secretariat to intervene and advise the school on appropriate ways of handling this and similar matters;
The Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Education to intervene by requesting the school to reinstate the expelled girls and ensure that the school’s policies are in line with those of the government.
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