May 2022 Volume 18

Teachers – Struggling to save Jamaica

Reprinted from Jamaica Gleaner
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By Delano Franklyn

Civil society is on the verge of collapse in Jamaica. Some persons would disagree with me and argue that it has already collapsed.

Although I disagree with that extreme position, I can understand why such a view exists. Persons of this view can easily point to the hundreds of persons who are murdered each year. They will point to acts of corruption which manifest itself in literally every sector of the society. They will identify the general indiscipline, which exists on our roads, in our communities, in our districts and in agencies and institutions.

People put up living quarters anywhere, squat on land with impunity, operate businesses without the requisite licence, set up food stalls anywhere, park where they please, and beggars no longer beg, they demand, as if what you have, by right, also belongs to them.

Life, they will point out, has become course and ugly. Our people have become brutish and intolerant. The simplest of disagreement can develop into an argument, which sometimes lead to a confrontation and, possible, a violent attack.

Life on the streets is a hustle. There are no rules of engagement. Each person for himself or herself, as people struggle daily to make ends meet. We decry what Jamaica has become. No one knows what Jamaica stands for any more.

Despite the rapidly declining social norms and standards in the country, I still maintain that all is not lost. There are decent, law-abiding and hard-working persons in the society who, under great stress and strain, are doing their endeavour best to push back against these negative tendencies. By their deeds they are fighting to save the soul of Jamaica.


One such group is that of our teachers. The recent decision by the management of Kingston College (KC) to put its ‘foot’ down on the creeping acts of indiscipline in the school has brought into public space, once again, the constant efforts of our teachers to help pull Jamaica out of the moral and social crises in which it finds itself.

Let me declare, up front, that I am a very proud graduate of Kingston College, and that I fully support the leadership of every school to rid itself of the scourge of indiscipline which now envelops the schools.

My knowledge of Kingston College is that its leadership goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that its students do well inside and outside of the classroom. Such performances are predicated on ensuring that optimum discipline is maintained. Discipline guarantees order. Without order standards cannot be maintained. There are some among us who believe that the best form of order is no order, and that those who seek to instil order are out of order.

Without the enforcement of discipline, KC would not have achieved what it has, since its birth on April 16, 1925. Equally, without discipline, Jamaica will not be able to achieve its true potential.

While I do not support the locking out of students from our schools as a form of discipline, I support schools taking tough measures, if necessary, to institute discipline. KC has a code of conduct for students, which is clearly outlined in a handbook. This is given to every parent and student. The handbook, among other things, speaks to the grooming of hair. If there is need to change it, so be it. I am sure that the management of the school will take this into consideration, but as a school and as a people, we either stand for something or nothing.

In doing so, let us look at how some of our young men are wearing their pants below their butts. Look at some of our young men who have no idea or interest in dressing decently when going for an interview. Well-groomed hair means that, whatever the style, it must be properly washed and kept clean. Every place of work in Jamaica have ground rules and, none of which I am aware, employs persons who are not required to be properly groomed, including properly kept hair, whatever the hairstyle.


One of the best places to resist the social and civil deterioration taken place in Jamaica is in our schools. Nearly half of our population is in a school space, of one kind or another, on a daily basis. With the ever-declining family support for many of our students, the place of socialisation for the majority of our children is in the schools.

Our teachers are the ones who are called upon to interface with these children on a day-to-day basis. With students being out of school for the last two years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of indiscipline have multiplied since their return to school. KC is grappling with this reality, and the Ministry of Education and the Government have left the schools to fend on their own, in this regard.

Mr Dave Myrie, the principal of KC, pointed out that, “since September [2021] we have been battling with students who have returned to school from two years of being out of face-to-face schooling. In the main, the battle has been about refocusing and learning, but also significant time has been spent dealing with the issue of deportment and overall grooming”.

Principal Mark Malabver of Yallahs High School pointed out after the incident at KC become public, ‘that there is a direct correlation between students who violate dress code and grooming policies/rules and students who commit other major disciplinary infractions in the school. There is also a direct correlation between students who commit major disciplinary infractions and poor student performance’.

In light of what principals Myrie and Malabver have said, must the management of schools sit back and be overrun by the few, as is happening elsewhere in the society, where some communities are held at ransom by a few deviants. Principals and their support staff cannot afford for the majority of students, who are in the main quite disciplined, to be bullied into acts of indiscipline by a few.

Acts of indiscipline are different from fighting for rights. There are many fora to discuss and agitate for aspects of the dress code to be changed, if that is required, such as student councils and parent-teacher associations. The problem is that many of these bodies, like so many other social organisations in the society, have become toothless.


The Ministry of Education needs to lead from the front in dealing with increasing acts of indiscipline in our schools. It needs to move quickly to have dialogue with our teachers, the management of the schools and student leaders, to flesh out a unified and collectively agreed set of ground rules for the conduct of managers of our schools, on how discipline ought to be enforced.

The threatening of principals by the Ministry of Education, and in particular by the Minister of Education, because they may take strong action to deal with acts of indiscipline among students, will not cut it. On the contrary, it may drive away some good teachers from the classroom and the management of the schools. Not having good-quality managers in our schools will not only affect the schools, it will also affect the country.

Our teachers and school managers constitute one of the groups in the society struggling to hold the social fabric of our country together. Like us, they have their faults, but let us not use their valiant efforts to maintain discipline in our schools as a means to come down hard on them, and ignore the fact that we need to save the younger generation, if we are to save Jamaica.

- Delano Franklyn is a KC Old Boy and attorney-at-law and the former minister of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Send feedback to .

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