Experts call for curbing absenteeism in schools

Taylor Scott International News

Experts call for curbing absenteeism in schools Afkar Abdullah / 16 March 2014 Skipping schools has become a ‘chronic behaviour’ among students, and experts are calling for a collaborative effort to curb the practice. Students of middle and high schools loitering in parks and malls; teenagers in school uniforms smoking around buildings and groceries in residential areas during school days. Sounds familiar? According to education experts, skipping classes has become a “chronic behaviour” among many students in government and private schools. Experts agreed that absenteeism among students has become a phenomenon that requires serious collaborative efforts between parents, schools, authorities concerned and the public. Mona Shuhail, Deputy Director of Sharjah Education Zone, said the phenomenon has been increasing every academic year. “This phenomenon will not only affect the student academically, but also the families and the whole society,” she said. “Here at the department, we receive a large number of complaints from the public and authorities such as the police and municipality about students who are seen roaming around outside schools during academic hours. We then contact the schools concerned and inform them about their students and instruct them to take serious steps to stop students from skipping classes.” Why students bunk schools Mostly male students skip classes. There could be many reasons for a student to skip classes, including family instability, negligence on the part of parents and bad company. “But most of the time students skip classes because they just want to, like maybe for the thrill of it,” Shuhail explained. “We brought (some) students here and questioned them…most of them skipped classes because they didn’t do their homework.” Mirgani Osman, a high school student, said he skipped school once because he wanted to eat ice cream with his friends instead of attending the last two classes of Art that he was not interested in. Wahbi Al Hamadi said his friends from different classes used to smoke cigarettes and convinced him to try it. However, after the Sharjah Municipality banned the sale of cigarettes in groceries, Al Hamadi and his friends decided to quit smoking and concentrate on studies. Measures adopted To resolve the problem, Shuhail said the department sent a circular to schools to check for absenteeism each year instead of at the beginning of the academic day. The department also instructed schools to conduct awareness classes about the consequences of skipping school. “The schools were instructed to contact the parents of students who skip school. But the problem is that in many cases, parents don’t answer calls and don’t show up when summoned by the school management.” She called for a collaborative effort from parents, schools, authorities concerned and the public. “The education department is planning to introduce a toll free number for the public to inform the authorities if they find students skipping classes.” Mohammed Al Jasim, spokesperson of the Sharjah Municipality, said the municipality received several complaints about students spending an academic day at parks. “The municipality (however) is not authorised to question students on skipping classes or even stop them from entering the park.” Mustafa Al Mosa, Director of Al Marriffa School, said they used to face this problem and several times the police brought students found loitering in malls to the school. “The practice stopped after we assigned security guards at all gates of the school and deployed a supervisor to search for students out of their classes. This, besides continuous instructions to students about such negative practices, has helped curb the phenomenon,” he said. Sultan Al Khayal, the spokesperson of the Sharjah Police, said the police deployed special patrols to curb the practice. The police also provide awareness lectures about the dangers of negative practices such as smoking, using drugs and skipping schools. When a police patrol spots students skipping schools, they summon the parents and make them sign an undertaking stating that they would not repeat the act. The schools concerned and the education department are also informed. Suggested measures Hibba Mohammed, a social researcher at the Sharjah Education Zone, said they are currently working on a study based on a survey conducted among parents, school management and authorities concerned to come up with an effective solution to curb the practice. Skipping school affects a student’s learning process and exposes them to danger. Two school directors demanded strict punitive action for skipping schools, while Yaqoub Al Hamadi, a social worker at Al Shahba High School, said the students concerned must only be questioned. “Tough punishment would complicate the issue,” he said. For more news from Khaleej Times, follow us on Facebook at , and on Twitter at @khaleejtimes Continue reading →

The post Experts call for curbing absenteeism in schools appeared first on Taylor Scott International.

Taylor Scott International

Taylor Scott International, Taylor Scott

Comments are closed.