Spare the rod, and you spoil the child

Points to Ponder

By Lex

A First Point: Are we taking the right decisions to prevent our youngsters from becoming juvenile delinquents and criminals in later life? I am putting this question because we find an increasing number of cases of violence in schools involving pupils themselves and pupils/teachers. Now we learn about pupils involved auto-mutilation by slashing or gashing various parts of their body. And such slashing or gashing is not restricted to boys, girls are as keen to bear the marks thereof.

What can the authorities do in the circumstances? Nothing much, as the slashing and gashing is done at home or in private among friends. According to me, this is one of the consequences of the official policy “qui monte zenfants lors la tête”, without taking into consideration the rights of the parents to discipline their children. The parents are under the impression that the authorities are, by law, taking over the responsibilities that normally should fall on the shoulders of the parents.

This is what the people responsible for children are doing. Give them sixteen rights, tell them that nobody can inflict any corporal punishment on them, tell them that if they have any problem the authorities will respond immediately and such other nonsense and these people think that they are doing a service to the cause of our children whereas in fact they are turning our children into undisciplined elements, juvenile delinquents and what not. But surely not into normal healthy children who are expected to act like children. If they have read in some books how their children should be treated, let them practice it on their children but, for God’s sake, leave our children alone.

If they are dictated to by some so-called experts, let those supposed experts exercise their expertise in some other jurisdiction where they will be accepted, but surely not here. Let the parents give the best care possible to their children, and if need be, give those parents that need some help the necessary facilities, but do not dictate to the parents and never, ten times never, try to take the place of the parents.

If some parents do not look after their children properly, then there is the relevant legislation which gives power to the authorities to take the recalcitrant parents to court.

The authorities cannot turn a blind eye on violence and indiscipline in schools. The nature and extent of such indiscipline and violence include inattention, disruptive behaviour in the classroom, thefts, fights, use of various weapons, drunkenness, drug abuse and violent attacks on teachers. We know that as the out-of-control behaviour of students escalates, there is a risk of losing a considerable proportion of our young people to a life of crime and a continuing “deviant behaviour”.

Insofar as I am concerned, neither the Ministry responsible for our children nor the Ombudsman for children is on the right track. Mauritian society is different from other societies and copying what is being done elsewhere will not do. We have different cultures here and each cultural group has a different way to treat their children. You may not agree with this but this is a fact.

What should we do? Go back to the days when the parents were exercising discipline on the youngsters. This is the long and short of the matter. We are grateful that we still have parents who do not care what the minister responsible for children or the Ombudsman for children is trying to do. And we are grateful that some of our teachers are disciplining our pupils the way it should be done – for “spare the rod, and you spoil the child”.  

Law and disorder at the QB Fair 

A Second Point: Some people in Quatre Bornes have a complaint against the authorities and in this case the authorities concerned are the Municipal Council of Quatre Bornes and the police force.

It is well known that on Thursdays and Sundays a huge fair is held where clothing, household effects and trinkets are sold. The fair attracts people from all over the country as well as a good number of tourists. The inhabitants of Quatre Bornes are not against the holding of this type of fair but they are against the parking of vehicles by the traders in such a way that they prevent users of the roads all around the fair to pass freely and the inhabitants from gaining access to their residences.

Who is responsible to cause the traders to respect the parking restrictions, especially parking where double yellow lines strictly forbid parking of any type of vehicles. At times policemen are present on the scene but the traders just do not care that they are acting in contravention of the law and the policemen just tolerate them. What about municipal inspectors? It would seem that they as well do not care.

Saturdays and Wednesdays are days on which the fair for vegetables is held. On these days, we do not have as many persons at the fair, yet we see the police officers applying the law very strictly against the traders as far as the parking of their vehicles is concerned.

Now I have two questions to put regarding this matter. Whose duty is it to ensure that law and order prevails at the Quatre Bornes fair? Is it that of the police or the municipal inspectors’? Or that of both? The inhabitants of Quatre Bornes need to know. Who is the police officer who has the responsibility to look after the law and order situation at the fair? Is it the highest ranking officer in charge of the police station of Quatre Bornes? Or the one posted at the Rose Hill headquarters? Anyway, one person must bear responsibility and it does not seem that he is doing his job properly.

There is also this very vexatious question as to why the seemingly preferential treatment for the traders on Thursdays and Sundays as against the those of Wednesdays and Saturdays?  

Creole in Parliament

A Third Point: The other day I heard Steeve Obeegadoo and Rajesh Bhagwan of the MMM and I presume on behalf of the MMM, asking in Parliament as to when the government will do the necessary so that Members of Parliament can address the House in the Creole language.

On Saturday last, the PMSD said that they are happy that the Creole language will soon be one of the languages that can be used in the National Assembly. I fully understand the position of the PMSD because the bulk of its supporters are made up of members of the General Population. And so also the position of the MMM which derives its support from the same community.

However, I fail to understand the stand of the Labour Party and of the MSM. We know that these two parties draw their support mainly from the Hindus and most of the Muslims. These two communities who make up the majority in the country support Bhojpuri as a language that can be used anywhere and everywhere. Remember, at one time, Bhojpuri was the language that was used by 75% of the population.

But for reasons best known to the authorities during the colonial period, Bhojpuri was downgraded in favour of the Creole language and we can understand the reason for which this language finds itself in an unfavourable situation. And the authorities are still contributing a lot to kill such a beautiful language. Can I ask the Hindu and Muslim members of Parliament, what they are doing regarding this matter? Are they conscious and concerned about what is happening, or is it that they are not concerned with what is happening to the Bhojpuri language? Or are they scared to voice their opinion on this matter in the National Assembly?

Those who are for the Creole language have spoken loud and clear, what about those who are for Bhojpuri? Can we hear their voice, even a whisper? They should not forget that the electorate who elected them to power are watching them.

* Published in print edition on 24 June 2011

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