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Cutting School

| by Victor Cherubim

( November 1, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) To those of us from Sri Lanka, especially as teenagers, Cutting School was a ploy, the best since sliced bread. Hardly would we have thought that Cutting School was also part of the art of pattern in dressmaking and drapery, which is an exquisite training exercise.

In Australia truancy is called “wagging.” But students who attend school but don’t go to class are considered to be “bunking.” There may be many reasons for not attending class, most of all the method of teaching, particularly Maths and least of all flippant childhood excuses.

Skipping class or a day at school without an excuse has been a common past time as kids.

However, parental responsibility has been enforced in tackling this “misbehaviour.” In England and Wales parents are under scrutiny. The parents of the child believed to be absent from a school without authority, can be fined after the first warning, from £50.00 onwards.

In Germany, parents of a child absent from school without legitimate excuse are notified by the school and Social Service may request the Police to escort the child to school. In a worst case scenario, a Court can partially or completely remove the child custody from the

parents. In Finland for example, such pupils are treated as “mischievous and not miscreants” and usually get detention after class, with control of absence from school left with the teachers and not the police in pursuit.

Cutting Edge technology

Since computers have taken over this monitoring, in the United States and elsewhere, if students are not marked as present, the school computers will automatically text within minutes the parents to notify of their absence. Such late or absent students are deemed to be punished not only by the school authorities, but also through peer pressure.

Recently we read the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka, in collaboration with Mobitel has introduced an iCard –clock in scheme – with the project starting at Royal College, and introduction in other Colombo Schools before moving to the Provinces.

The Government introducing new initiatives for the betterment of students, parents and teachers is to be highly commended, as it not only increases school attendance but also see an improvement in children’s security.

With Cutting Edge technology and with Cutting School today, comes Cutting Burdens of red tape and bureaucracy. Here in the UK, the Government is determined to reduce, if not end bureaucracy so that schools can get on with their core business of teaching and learning, giving teachers more freedom to decide how to teach.

The Education & Inspection Act 2006 in the UK gives Head Teachers even the power to regulate the conduct of pupils when they are away from School, including Cyber-bullying, which is using a laptop, home computer, mobile phone or tablet, to harass fellow students.

This is forbidden.

Cutting Burdens

Whilst it is appreciated that Cutting School is prevalent not on in City Schools, it is beyond reasonable doubt that Rural Schools are the most unfortunate and vulnerable as far as “playing truancy.”

We note from a recent study which showed that the effect of distance from school on attendance and truancy unequivocally fell with increases in child labour, particularly in rural schools. There are many reasons adduced; among them is the intergenerational poverty trap. Thus policy intervention is necessary for rural schools to be monitored with closer inspection for class cutting.

A child’s incentive to attend without class cutting in a rural school is interdependent on government assistance to rural schools more than urban schools. The widespread observation is that the educational authorities are continually encouraging urban education in Sri Lanka, is far from warranted.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has right through stressed the need for the right assistance to rural environment as well as to rural schools. Human capital of rural students has always been encouraged which is in line with “Mahinda Chintanya.”

According to research in the West, there is a new trend. Children attending Village schools in Britain are outperforming their inner city peers, despite a clear “urban advantage.”

“Urban schools usually have a wealthier student body, exercise more control over their own funding, have better qualified teachers and are less likely to be hit with staff shortages. But with it all, the study has shown that Britain has bucked the trend in registering better results in schools in villages and small towns.”

This can only be attributed to one thing “cutting burdens” on teachers and allowing them to do what they know best to do, teach, especially in rural communities.