Thu, 04 Mar 1999

Principals 'responsible' for student brawls

JAKARTA (JP): A city councilor has underlined the importance of sacking a school principal if any student of the school he supervises dies in a street brawl. This is in a bid to reduce the number of such fatalities.

"The school principal is the one entrusted by the community with their children's safety. If he or she is unable to ensure that safety, what's the use of that principal then?" Nitra Arsyad, a member of Commission E for social affairs, said on Tuesday.

Nitra told The Jakarta Post that a principal was in charge of student security for up to a one-kilometer radius from the school complex.

"If a particular number of students dies in brawls occurring in that area in a given time, then he should be removed."

"There should be no exceptions. It's better to see children's faces in the police stations than in the morgues."

Nitra made the remarks in response to the fact that at least five students have been killed and 30 others have suffered injuries in 25 student brawls recorded in this year's first two months.

According to Raya Siahaan of the city's Social Disturbance Control Center, this was an alarming figure considering that only 14 were killed in the whole of last year.

"Five killed in two months is just too much. Stern measures must be taken and fast to prevent such deaths," Raya said.

Bahar Laut, head of the public order subdivision of the city's social and political affairs directorate, said on Wednesday that Nitra's idea was good, but it would be too complex to implement.

"Sacking a school principal is not only humiliating, but also takes away the one thing the principal is considered good at ... caring for the school," Bahar said.

Bahar said that a better proposal would be to expel a student found provoking his or her colleagues to fight on the streets or on buses.

"If a student is caught three times initiating brawls, expel him or her, even if the student has a brilliant academic record. But the principal should also get a strict reprimand from the school's board members," Bahar said.

Bahar explained that once a principal received a reprimand, he or she would be on their guard.

"After the third reprimand, the principal should be demoted to, for instance, the level of a teacher or a teacher's assistant, depending on the seriousness of the last brawl that occurred."

Bahar added that every principal of a private or state-run school should order their teachers to make monthly "behavioral report cards," recording, among other things, recalcitrant students, their behavior and the way teachers are handling them.

"This system should apply from elementary school to university level," said Bahar, head of a communication forum for Jakarta students under the umbrella of the directorate.

"Each student should have a report card from the school about his or her attitudes towards studying, friends, cutting class and other matters," Bahar said.

Bahar said that with this system, a junior high school, for instance, would have a clear idea of the kind of student they would be taking in and how to deal with them.

"A student could be naughty but highly intelligent. Those behavioral report cards would serve as guide-books for teachers handling students," he said.

When asked about the participation of parents' in controlling their children's behavior, Bahar said that it was the job of teachers to make parents aware that if they were unable to control their children, then the latter would face expulsion.

"That will keep parents on their toes. They know that they pay big money to get their children schooled... parents will themselves take some assertive action," Bahar said. (ylt)