Pre-vocational education in mauritius
Introduction of Pre-vocational education in Mauritius
To understand the essence of the dissertation I have found it very important to sketch an introduction on pre-vocational education in Mauritius. It is important to understand the different issues that I have tackled along the study.
Pre-vocational education (PVE) was introduced at the secondary level in 2001 to cater for students who failing CPE twice and as from 2005 were compulsory by law to continue school till the age of 16. These students were entitled for admission in secondary schools in the pre-vocational streams which were incorporated in secondary schools together with the mainstream classes. However, about 20% still leave school before the third year of pre-vocational education. The “Education & Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020 report” states that “the curriculum of pre-vocational education is based on “basic literacy, numeracy, Science, technical and ICT skills” which is covered in a span of 3 years and that at the end of the 3 years of pre-vocational schooling, students are entitled to a “bridging course- the NTC foundation course”, which is a gateway for further studies in the TVET sector (Technical and Vocational Education and Training Subsector).The qualifications needed to enter this sector vary from completion of Form 3 to Form 5. ( Refer to appendix 1).
Vocational education has been viewed as very important in enhancing quality education, in the race of globalization, as a drive in sustainable development and in increasing human capital that will allow the country to meet its future targets.
Though vocational education forms part of quality education in Mauritius, it is saddening to say that it has got a negative image being in line with “CPE failures”. Linked to that is the fact that most pre-voc students come from defavorised regions and are mostly from the working class families, people tend to look down on them and this type of education.
Overview of school violence in Mauritius
This part is based on secondary data which has been collected through newspapers to provide a picture of the growing school violence in Mauritius since some years. In appendix 1, there are several press cuttings from different newspapers elaborating on different incidents of school violence. What have been reported regarding indiscipline and school violence since some years is simply horrible and unacceptable.
In an article in the “ Week End scope”, dated 23-29 March 2005, in the section “aggression physique”, it states that a student of Form 4 of the St Esprit secondary school, due to a problem, exerted physical violence on his female teacher in front of the class. In relation to this unacceptable behavior, he was rusticated from school until the disciplinary board of the school gives a verdict on the situation.
Another growing feature of violence in our educational institutions is the alarming rate of sexual violence which often escapes research. In the same newspaper as mentioned above, not later than November 2005”, numerous cases of sexual violence have been elaborated among which I have chosen two.
The first case is about Paul, who wanted to be a professional and has ended up as “marchand de mines et de boulettes”. He relates being sexually abused regularly in the toilets of the school. It all started when two of his friends solicited him to be part of their little “game” of watching a girlfriend's nude picture from his mobile. They went in the toilet not wanting to be disturbed. The rosy adventure turned sour when they forced Paul “de les toucher”, who blatantly refused at first. Threatened to be harmed, the latter had to finally comply with their wants. To add insult to injury, they even photographed the victim while he was doing the act and blackmailed him. For one month, Paul was abused sexually. Consequently, not being able to bear the humiliation, he had to abandon school for good.
The second case is about a girl who is known by her peers to have been collectively abused. When interviewed the girl denied all such attempts saying that she considered the boys as “des frères”. According to her, the relationship she shared with the boys was misinterpreted by others. However, she adds that that a birthday that her male peers and her celebrated in a bar, she drunk “près d'un litre d'alcool” as she was challenged and due to which she was even hospitalized. Though she was unconscious she asserts that she was not abused. However, other students continue to believe and affirm that she was raped. Regarding this, some teachers were even questioned.
And as a last case quite recently, from the “News on Sunday, dated August 7-13 2009”, it's appalling to know that a boy from the “Cote D'or institute of Vocational Training Board” had continuously been ragged by other pupils of the same institution. In many instances, he was bullied and even forced to dance “almost naked”. What we also learn is that the teacher to whom he reported the number of abuses he faced turned a deaf ear to his plight. Such acts occurring in our institutions are shocking and incite the fury of people when those at the top do not take actions against the aggressors.
Definition of school violence
“International research demonstrates that the problem of school violence is a worldwide health concern”. (Eslea &Mukhtar, 2000; Smith, 2003; Smith, Morita, Junger-Tas, Olweus, et al., 1999).There is no country that can say it is “a model of caring” in its public or private schools. (Smith, 2003).
Children can experience violence in any of the settings in which they spend their childhood: in their homes and families, schools, care and justice systems, workplaces and communities. Recent years have placed more interest upon the problem of “school violence”, which has become one of the most serious educational issues in many parts of the world.
Some people believe that aggression is a natural and transitory phenomenon of childhood and adolescence, which most children and youngsters must go through; and moreover that many acts of violence by children and adolescents are of a ‘playful' nature, and will eventually disappear as the young people grow older and become more mature. Though adults are very much concerned about serious eruptions of violence, they still tend to take for granted that children are going to be bullied at school and they tend to blame the victim. The belief that if a child is bullied, he did something to bring it on himself is shared by the great majority of adults. Children themselves, often reflect this sociocultural perspective, saying, in effect, “If you get hit at school, you probably deserve it”.This indeed is one way in which children are denied dignity, worth, equality, and inclusion is by the perpetuation of certain myths such as “Boys will be boys”, “Kids are cruel”, “Bullying is a part of life”. Of course children can be cruel, just as adults can be. By believing in and holding onto powerful and old- age myths, however, we contribute to and perpetuate patterns that hurt children. This wrong concept as studies show is challenged in several industrialized by looking at the long term effects and persistent nature of violence and bullying.
Types of school violence
There exist two types of bullying: direct bullying and indirect bullying. Direct bullying is visible. It is linked to being hit, pushed, spitted on, pinched or kicked. It can also include racketeering, that is being forced to hand over one's possession or forced to do things that one's does not want to do.
Indirect bullying is not easily identifiable. It amounts to verbal, emotional and psychological aggression. For instance being called names, being teased, being ignored or left out, being discriminated against for different reasons. It also implies being the target of gossiping. Direct bullying is more practiced by boys, while girls are more prone to use verbal and emotional violence.
Who tends to be the victims of school violence
Children who are different by virtue of appearance, disability, socioeconomic status, or other distinguishing characteristics are very likely to be victims with physical, emotional, or learning disabilities are among the most frequent targets (Eamon,2001; Mishna,2003). Students say those who look, act, or dress differently; or have mental health, alcohol, or drug problems are most likely to be excluded and abused at school (deLara,2002; Garbarino & deLara,2002). Children who are anxious and who have low self-esteem are at an increased risk of being bullied by their peers. In addition, research suggests that bully victimization is higher among boys who are less well-built than their peers (Olweus, 1993b) and among children and adolescents who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Characteristics of those who indulge in school violence
Researchers have identified a number of general characteristics of children who are in school violence, such as impulsiveness and dominant personalities; have difficulty abiding to rules and sees violence in a positive aspect (Limber, 2002; Olweus, 1993a; Olweus et al., 1999).
Children engaged in school violence are more inclined than their peers to be engaged in a variety of antisocial, violent or troubling behaviors ( Haynie et al., 2001). They are more likely to be involved in vandalism (Olweus, 1993a), fighting (Nansel, Overpeck, Haynie, Ruan, & Scheidt, 2003; Olweus, 1993a), theft (Olweus, 1993a), and weapon- carrying (Nansel et al., 2003), and are more inclined than non- violent peers to consume alcohol (Nansel et al., 2001; Olweus, 1993a) and smoke (Nansel et al.,2001).They may show signs of poor academic achievement, assessments of school climate (Nansel et al., 2001), and school dropout rate (Byrne, 1994).
Bullying also may be an indicator that boys are at risk for engaging in later trouble-some and criminal behavior ( Limber, 2002; Loeber & Dishion, 1983; Olweus, 1993a; Pellegrini, 2001,2002).
Causes of school violence
There exist many causes of school violence. The dominant causes of violence found by the comparative studies refer to the following economic, familial, school and societal factors.
It concerns economic and social exclusion, poverty, inequitable educational and job chances; jobless youths; insufficient educational expenditure; under-equipped and overcrowded classrooms; shortage of school counselors; lack of means to transport students to school on time (causing trouble between students and gatekeepers); poor living conditions ( insufficient food and/or clothing and lower quality of life).
These imply: lack of adequate parental supervision and child-rearing practices; punitive parents with unclear disciplinary orientation; breakup of the family; lack of family values with good moral and religious guidelines.
These factors point to poor school performance, existing violent incidents and aggressive behavior models in schools ; aggressive and destructive peer relations ; unmanageable class-sizes; predetermined and inflexible curricula irrelevant to the interests and needs of pupils ; poor pupil/teacher relationships; teacher's punitive attitudes, e.g. banishing students from the classroom, the public humiliation of repeaters and dropouts.
School violence tends to take place in unsupervised spaces such as hallways, restrooms, locker rooms and school buses. There are a variety of problems connected with the daily school ride for children. Glover et al. (2000) notes that the school bus is a problem for children because “who you are and where you live is obvious to those who want to make your life difficult”. More to that a small school theoretically allows for greater adult awareness, supervision, intervention, and caring than a student can expect at a large school. However, this does not guarantee students that they will be safe from bullying.
Societal and Political factors
Societal and political factors refer to political violence associated with wars and armed conflicts; the media's indiscriminate violent and anti-social programmes; street gangs who disturb schools, and steal and damage school property; alcohol and drug abuse.
In an article entitled “ Teachers, parents blamed” on the News on Sunday, dated September 29- October 5 2006, Psychologist, Dr Mahendranath Motah asserts that children behave violently as there is a lack of role models and also they are strained to follow the rat race. He further adds that “they are left to their own devices by parents and teachers. That's why they are defying teachers at school”. He further adds that there has been a decline of spiritual and moral values in Mauritius and that's why students have a lack of respect for parents, teachers and institutions. He asks as to how you can expect a child to distinguish between right and wrong in the absence of guidelines. He puts the blame on teachers and parents who do not cater for the necessary tools to the child to function in society and also adds that there is a communication breakdown between children and adults.
School violence as a means of social control
Bullying can be a form of social control and an attempt to force conformity with group norms, (Pellegrini, Bartini & brooks, 1999). Another fundamental function of bullying is to force conformity with certain very predictable societal norms. Bullying and harassment are means of enculturation and socialization particularly directed at those outside of the norm- in dress, speech, general attitude or behavior. In schools, those who bully with impunity may be the Parentified Children (Boszormenti- Nagy & sparks,1973). In effect, when teens bully others like Goths or GLBTQ, many adults agree with the overall goal of bullying - enforcing conformity to social norms of behavior, dress or attitude. This is a possible explanation for why they do not intervene to stop it .The Parentified children of the system will push, pull, and manipulate other children to coerce them into “proper” standards of dress, behavior, and attitude.
Family influences on school violence
There are family characteristics that may increase a child's likelihood of bullying or of being bullied, (Duncan, 2004; Espelage, Bosworth, &Simon,2000; Olweus,1993a; Olweus et al.,1999)
Family characteristics of children who bully
Common characteristics of parents who bully include a lack of warmth and involvement, a lack of supervision, and inconsistent but corporal discipline (Duncan, 2004; Olweus, 1993a; Olweus et al., 1999). Children who indulge in school violence report high negative affect within their families (Rigby, 1993), poor relationship with their parents (Rigby, 1993), and little emotional support (Rigby, 1994). Children who bully their peers are also more prone than other children to be engaged in or exposed to violence within the home. Children who bully also are practically more liable to have been exposed to domestic violence (Baldry, 2003). Research by Shields and Cicchetti (2001) also reveals that children who were maltreated by a parent are more likely to indulge in school violence than their peers
In the News on Sunday, July 31- August 6, 2009, an article on “Class Violence worries” caught my attention. The newspaper states that “Bullying, discipline trouble, attention disorders, and learning difficulties” are the behaviors identified “by teachers and the Family Welfare Protection Unit”, who think that this comes from the violent environments these kids live in”. It is clearly asserted by FWPU officer Nandita Ramkhelawon that “parental violence” is the major cause of the problem. She explains that parent's anger and frustration are headed towards the children and this affects their growth. She also identified some factors as alcoholism, extra marital affairs and drugs that lead to the ruin of family life together with the fact that when parents reach home after a long tiring day at home, they contribute less in the development of their kids. According to her all these factors together affects the mental condition of the kid and consequently they “exhibit or even replicate the behavior they witness at home”.
Family characteristics of victims of school violence
Differential familial characteristics emerge for bullied children. Duncan and Rigby arguments that students that come from poor family functioning and communication and low family affect are prone to be bullied. Boys and girls who have been maltreated by parents tend to be bullied by their peers (Shields & Cicchetti, 2001). Moreover, boys and girls exposed to domestic violence are more apt to be victims of school violence (Baldry, 2003).Bowers and colleagues (1994) observed that bully victims report troubled parent-child relationships, low parental warmth, abusive and inconsistent monitoring and discipline, and neglect.
Impact of school violence
“They may skip school, feel too “sick” to go to school, use alcohol and other drugs, and in some cases resort to suicide as a means to escape humiliation and intimidation they experience at school ( DeLuca & Rosenbaum,2000; Garbarino & deLara,2002; Hazler et al., 2001; Mc Partland & Jordan,2002).
There are many consequences of school violence for perpetrators and victims .Research has found that children who are victims of school violence may be at a high risk for “depression, poor self-esteem, and other mental health problems as adults” (Olweus, 1993b). Bullies are also at risk for poor short-term as well as long term outcomes (Espelage & Swearer, 2003). Skipping school, dropping out of school, and vandalism are the great possibilities for this group of students (Olweus, 1993b).
Kochenderfer & Ladd (1996) states that victims of school violence are more likely than their peers to report wanting to avoid attending school and have higher absenteeism rates ( Rigby,1996; Smith, Talamelli, Cowie, Naylor & Chauhan,2004).