THESE days, schools are allowed to engage private organisations or companies approved by the Education Ministry to conduct motivation and leadership courses, seminars and workshops for their students.
This is a laudable move as they tap on expertise and resources from beyond the school enclave.
There are many testimonies of good learning experiences by students who have participated at such events.
However, some of these training sessions have also been found to be less than satisfactory and leave much room for improvement.
Based on my discussions with parents and fellow educators, there are some issues that I would like to put forth to the relevant authorities.
Firstly, the trainers must know that the students who are sent for such workshops and courses are usually potential student leaders. They are there for further training and development.
They are not students who need to be “corrected or disciplined”. So, it is completely uncalled for that some trainers resort to shouting or barking out orders to them.
It is also unfair to single out participants and embarrass them.
Some trainers have weird methods of meting out punishment that include sticking negative comments on a participant’s shirt or blouse and getting individuals to stand in the middle of a pond usually after dusk.
This is demoralising and certainly not motivational. Worse, some of these trainers do not know or care to find out about the prevailing school rules and regulations.
They brag about their own experiences (which are mostly irrelevant) and impose their own ways of doing things that may cause confusion among the participants.
They should never apply the “destroy to build” ideology on these budding leaders.
Also, school teachers MUST be allowed to sit in on the training sessions. Since the school has entrusted the training to the organisation or company, teachers should remain the guardians of their charges.
Most teachers and parents only hear about the goings-on at such sessions from their students and childrenafter they are over, which may be too late.
There may be some overzealous trainers who may not have the experience of dealing with teens.
We do not want to see our kids being “broken” which is why a sit-in teacher will help prevent and correct some of the wrong methods and techniques.
The basic underlying objective of these training sessions is to promote and appreciate unity in diversity in our society.
This is important to the young participants who are at an impressionable age. Therefore, all trainers must guard themselves against making any racial slurs, religiously bigoted, sexist or suggestive remarks.
There is need for the Education Ministry to thoroughly vet the background of some of these trainers, the contents of their modules and their modus operandi. The selection of trainers must be stringent.
Trainers should be truly qualified and competent. They are to be of good character and have integrity.
Since these sessions are held outside of school, school authoirites must make sure that the chosen venues comply with strict safety and environmental health standards.
There have been complaints from some participants that they had to sleep on wooden planks while others had said that they had to put up with toilets that had no lights.
The jogging tracks or playing fields must also be tarred or turfed to prevent accidents.
Finally, many companies proclaim their “successes” in organsing these events in Facebook postings.
School administrators should be more discerning; cost should not be the only factor. Facebook postings should be read together with the accompanying comments and the number of “likes” generated.
More importantly, schools should liaise with others who had undergone the same programme earlier to get the full picture. Liong Kam Chong Seremban, Negri Sembilan The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 5 June 2016