I had a run in with my youngest son's school today...he attends a govt school here in Hidd...as have all my children before him. He was injured while playing and ended up with a large goose egg on his forehead...I was called at work and a very angry lady demanded I come pick up my son...and then he was given the phone and all I could hear was a tear filled voice unable to get the words out...at first I thought he couldnt speak because he was hurt and choked up...later I discovered he was terrified of his principle...who was on a rampage about how he hurt himself.
Here is my problem...first of all he is a boy of 9. Boys will be boys and children will be children...they will play...sometimes roughly and end up getting hurt. Show me one child in the world that does not end up with a goose egg on his or her head at least once in childhood....some seem to live with a perpetual swollen bump somewhere on their body. Its the way of life...we learn that to engage in some kind of action(usually an action we know we shouldnt be doing) ends up in us getting hurt to some degree...we understand that as adults...children sometimes need a few lessons...and they need to learn the hard way(I might add that some adults need a few hard lessons as well...sigh)
Generally when one of my children get hurt I will quickly check to make sure nothing too serious has happened...if it has I get them to the doctor and have it all taken care of. I bring them home...give them some TLC...put them to bed if they need it...prop them up in front of the tv if they dont. In other words, I baby them until the fright and shock wears off..once that phase has passed...I then come down like a hammer to show my displeasure at that action...and then hand down some grounding as well if its called for. Usually the injury itself is enough of a punishment. I have always held to the belief that to shout and carry on at the stupidity of my child in putting him or herself in danger or in just not thinking before the action was carried out is counter productive...and most likely wont be remembered later once all the blood and shock wears off.
So here I arrive at school, Im nervous wondering just how bad he is injured...so to be greeted with angry accusations about the stupidity of my son for playing alone without supervision( he is in school...at what point would he be unsupervised) ...is unnerving...and frankly pissed me off. He was sitting on the bed with a bleeding forehead...tears in his eyes...and obvious fear as well...and yet all these women who run this school seemed unable to give him some degree of comfort...lay a hand on his shoulder...some soft words to make the pain and fright seem less until mommy arrives. Nothing...just shouting and what distinctly sounded like serious "covering my ass from future accusations I wasnt doing my job" going on. The principle herself was the worst offender...she shouted that he was playing in a forbidden area...she even showed me where it was...it didnt seem to be a forbidden area as it was a walkway between two classrooms...and he told me later that everyone plays there in full view of the teachers etc....she told me he was climbing a tree and fell down...she showed me the tree....I dare say if my son could climb that tree he has the agility and power of a monkey as it wasnt really what you would consider a climable tree...he later told me he never touched the tree and there was a teacher that saw how he was hurt so could vouch for him. She also carried on about how he was told many times in the past not to behave in such a manner but ignored everyone and continued doing as he pleased. Ok, I will admit my son is not perfect...I do have to repeat myself to him on more than once occassion...but if he was such a disruptive student...always causing apparent mayhem at school...why hadnt I heard anything about it. His report cards always show good conduct...no reprimands...no letters home.
Anyhow, I took him home and doctored him up and stewed with resentment for awhile. ...
I have had run ins with these govt schools in the past...5 kids have attended them for 14 years now...this is not the first time I felt that these ladies(almost always ladies I deal with) have no maternal instincts...care not a fig for the children that are in their care for 7 hours a day...9 months of the year. I entrust my children to these people...I allow my most precious possessions to be in the care of strangers...hoping that they will treat my children the same way they treat their own...with compassion...empathy...care and concern, but time and again I see that the opposite holds true...even knowing my children for years...seeing them day in and day out...watching them grow and mature seems to affect them not at all...these women are cold and in some ways abusive...and I have had enough.
A short list of offenses my children have endured(the ones I know of) at the hands of govt school teachers and staff;
1. actual physical abuse....a smack on one occasion..a twisting of the arm on another.
2. shouting for a myriad of reasons...sometimes my kids deserve to be reprimanded but shouting is not the way...not to mention the language they use and the names they call my children...what sort of example is that to children that are taught they are supposed to treat each other and especially staff with respect and civility?
3. several instances my children have been accused of cheating and have had tests snatched and tossed and given a zero...despite protests and denials from my children...not to mention they all have maintained A averages their whole lives...so why would they need to cheat? And yet no phone call to me telling me my child was caught cheating.
Besides this the teachers and staff themselves seem very unconcerned with the actual education of the children....of course there are always exceptions and thank God for them...but generally my experience has been that the teaching standard is substandard...the teachers uncaring...the staff just doing a job to get a salary. I have always assumed people go into the education field because they have real concern about children learning...a desire to teach the next generation and thus enhance the future of that community etc....then again I might be wrong.
Some things I find substandard about Bahrain govt schools...at least the ones in Hidd.
1. the classes are bare...they look like prison rooms....no color...no decoration...usually not even curtains on the windows. To inspire creativity you need to catch the imagination...the students are expected to sit in these bare classes all day and summon the energy to pay attention and do well(thankfully my children have done that despite that)
2. Hardly a day goes by that one or more of my children will complain that the ac's are not working...and this goes on for a week or more...then its fixed and then breaks down again a week later. Basically they spend the hottest parts of the day in sheer misery. And yet every year I see that the Ministry of Education allocates a fairly large budget to maintain the schools....apparently that doesnt extend to new or improved ac's.
3. Sport is not encouraged...at least not in the girls schools. I have lost count of the number of times my daughters have answered the question..."what did you do in sports class today?" with the reply..."nothing, we had to sit on the floor the whole class because the sport teacher did not come." I always wondered if this fabled sport teacher actually got paid for a job she rarely seemed to do?
4.Libraries....I assume the schools have them...I assume that since most schools do have them....but, once again I have yet to hear my children tell me that the class was taken to the library for a reading session...or to check out books...or to do research on a project...or to just acquaint themselves with the libraries workings. My one son is convinced his school does not have a library as he has never seen it...he has been in that school for 2 years now. Reading is not encouraged....book reports are never asked for...nobody seems to care whether these children are even reading at all much less for entertainment. I remember the Minister of Education some years back states that more money would be spent in encouraging reading among govt school students...not sure how that money was spent but he didnt need to spend any money in my opinion...he just needed to hire some staff that gave a damn about the education of children. A society that does not read by choice is worse off then one that cannot read in my opinion.
5. Learning is not taught in my opinion...only memorizing facts to regurgitate later for a test or paper....learning something means its stays with you for the rest of your life....memorizing something usually means its gone from your head once the need for it is gone...once the test is over. Why the need for the teachers at all if all that is required of the student is to play back what they memorized for the test? they could memorize at home and just come in for the test in that case.
These are just some of the drawbacks I see with the state of govt schools today...at least the onces in Hidd. I wish I could send my children to privates school....I wish I could surround them with people who cared about their futures...even if they are non Bahrainis...because I sincerely believe the average Bahraini doesnt really care what the future holds for their children...as they are allowing these substandard teachers and school staff to care for their children day after day and year after year. You might say "we dont have a choice...thats the govts doing"...the govt works for you doesnt it....silence means acceptance...if you accept your children being taught...or not taught...in this fashion...then good for you...keep quiet and dont complain later when your child cant graduate or get a good job cause they are suffering from basic education. Even those that due graduate from highschool find college a whole other world...a world where people have to read in order to achieve good results...where they need to know not only where the library is but how to utilize it...a world where memorizing just doesnt cut it....my daughter just started college this year...and has had to learn the hard way....in fact...she has had to relearn how to educate herself in order to figure out college life and the standards she must maintain...even though she has been an A student all her life.
At any rate....I told them I will be making a formal complaint to the Ministry of Education...and through the GDN....this got their attention as several years ago I wrote a letter of complaint only to the GDN about the schools in Hidd and it was shown to the Minister of Education who apparently came down hard on the staff of that school...cause quite a little storm over it...so they know Im serious....I just wish more parents were serious and concerned enough to complain in order to affect some change.
Silence means acceptance....right?