Monday, 29 May 2006

Whose responsibility - children missing schools

A Current Affair in Tonight's nine channel reported on an issue very much at my heart.

The parents of a 12-year old boy will be fined thousands of dollars if their son continues to miss school, according to the report. The problem is it is not the parents who are forbidding the boy to go to school. The boy did not want to go to school!

We all know that we cannot force a horse to drink. We can only lead it to the water.

We all know that we cannot force a person to learn. Learning is very much self-motivation.

Years ago, parents would keep their children at home either because they did not want to pay the school fees, or wanted the children to help in the chores or made some more money. Hence, punishing the parents by not letting the children to go to school made sense.

Today, with all the material attractions and the protection of children, parents are powerless. Schools are not prison. Students should not be locked inside a school. Parents can only do as much as sending the children to school. In the case reported, the mother quitted her job in order to ensure her son goes to school. But, she cannot force him.

This is a problem very much to my heart because my only daughter was suffering from the same problem. She lost motivation. She is strong, both physically and mentally. If she did not want to go to school, no one can force her.

I am glad to say today that she is on her way to recovery. But that is a lot work done by our psychiatrist, social worker, school, teachers and all the people helping us. I am very grateful to all these people and I am very fortunate.

One thing I learnt, if any, is that punishing the parents do not help!

We all understand that children need education in order to secure any hope to have a decent job. Unfortunately, at their age, children just do not understand.

The worse thing a government can do in this situation is to fine the parents!


Karyn Romeis said...

Here in the UK of parents jailed for their children's truancy. For example, see

The children in this and other stories are usually terribly contrite and swear to toe the line. The trouble is that the attitude doesn't last. Unless the root causes are addressed, as in your own case, the children are bound to "re-offend".

Albert Ip said...

The program's video is now online. see here

Albert Ip said...

Hi Karyn,

Thank you for your concern. My daughter is still on the road of recovery. I'll write about what I have learnt from her case (as a father) later here.