Schools have abdicated their role

Thursday August 16, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/8/16/focus/11866304&sec=focus

THE issue of lawlessness on our roads is not a new phenomena. It has been manifesting itself over the last three decades at least.

Hence Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye’s observation that at least 50% of motorcyclists give scant respect to traffic rules is not surprising.

May I add that it is not only motorcyclists that do not respect traffic rules, but also many behind the wheel. And these days, members of the fairer sex can be counted among them.

Tan Sri Lee says: “The question to be asked is why are so many of our motorcyclists not showing respect for traffic rules and regulations The issue of showing disrespect for the law needs to be addressed and the causes identified before it degenerates further.”

For whatever that goes on around us, there is a cause and effect.

In some cases the cause and effect is more obvious than in others. For example, in the 60s coconut oil used to be sold in kilogrammes in the Cameron Highlands as it stayed frozen 24 hours; today it is sold in bottles as it never freezes anymore (except in a fridge).

Climate change is the cause, and it was brought about by the “development” that saw a lot of nature being replaced by concrete. This is obvious to the eye.

The answer to Tan Sri’s question lies in two important areas.

Firstly, schools have abdicated their roles as character builders and secondly, society itself has failed in continuing the education of children entering adulthood regarding the respect of law.

Tan Sri should walk incognito into schools to see how children behave.

Do they respect their teachers, e.g. greet them, giving way to teachers walking along the corridors. Do they queue at the canteen? Are they silent during school assembly and when walking in the classrooms? Are they silent when teachers are teaching? etc.

How does the behaviour of the children in school compare to the behaviour of the motorcyclists and drivers on the roads? Any similarity?

If schools, head teachers and classroom teachers do not enforce a school’s “house rules”, then can children be blamed for growing up to be lawless on the roads?

What we see on the roads, and in society generally, is the effect of what goes on in the schools.

Why is it that those who are charged with the responsibility of educating our children cannot see the co-relation between the two, i.e. the effect and its cause?

Secondly, society through its enforcement agencies has also abdicated its role of continuing the character development process that is supposed to have started in the schools.

When laws are allowed to be broken with impunity, more and more will start breaking the law.

In the 50s, cyclists used to be fined for going in the dark without a headlight, (even if an oil lamp), and a red tail light or a red reflector at the rear.

A colleague who visited Germany in the 80s related how driving along a country road, he saw a man waiting for the light to change before crossing the road which was practically bare.

Stopping and asking the man why he had not crossed the road yet as there was no traffic on it, the man said he was waiting for the light to change.

Another story out of Germany was told by a high ranking Housing Ministry official on his return. He had asked about the rate of non-compliance with Local Authority Laws (about 30 laws). The answer was “0%”.

The reason: Very strict enforcement such that people dared not breach the laws.

In Malaysia, law enforcement agencies don’t do that; sometimes they beg the people to comply!

How do the Japanese train their children such that even in the face of disaster they can queue patiently for their turn to receive food and drink? Compare that with the way Malaysians behave.

RAVINDER SINGH
Penang