I read with amusement the hoo-haa regarding this issue recently. I think the stint is good for kids with major disciplinary problems, as harsh as prison might be. The exposure will be a deterrent for quite a number of them, I am sure.
I can imagine what kind of characters those kids must have been at school too. Most likely they are the hardcore rule breakers... Of what kind? Playing truant, rude and obnoxious, rebel rousers, smoking, fighting, extorting money and favors. I think our school system cuts too much leeway for the kids these days and many of them are making full use of it. Teachers' hands are basically tied. And many Students' Affairs Assistants are not cut out for the tough job of policing the students. I've come to a conclusion that some kids can't be reasoned with. Only harsh measures work with them but these days we don't mete those measures any more. In the spirit of me keprihatinan, we try to reason with with them. And it gets us not far....
What does it mean to expel a student today? They get transferred to another school. The problem is not solved. They become some other school's problem. The safety net is cast too far and wide. One lesson I learned from parenting my kid is that if there isn't enough fear in a kid, chances are he'll push you till he gets what he wants and it'll be an unrelenting push. And so the kids keep pushing... with them, if a boundary is not placed, they'll keep pushing.
I know there will be some who will insist that we should try to convince these kids, blah, blah, blah.... all those psycho analysis approaches. It does not work all the time. For one, if a kid is allowed to slide too deep till he cannot make sense of his lessons, there is no way he's going to turn into a model student just by listening to some advice. And that is what I get a lot these days. The kids are way too far gone to even catch up. At Upper Secondary level, we are asking for the impossible for these kids. And so we continue to lower the passing grades so that appearances of advancement can be maintained. In reality, kids today are a lot dumber.
The school system is too academic oriented. There is too much emphasis on the academic stream. These kids don't fit in. It's crazy to expect them to take 6-8 academic subjects. Memorizing, regurgitating, writing.... by the time they get to Form 2, many of their minds are deadened to instruction. And deteriorating discipline means teachers are spending more than 70% of their attention on disciplining rather than teaching. And most of the time, the remaining energy is quite sapped too by the discouragement of what seems to be sheer stupidity on the students' parts. So who is dumber? The policy makers who came up with this system thinking that one shoe fits all? Or us teachers who seem to have failed in producing good students?
And so they 'complete' their 11 years of mandatory schooling, 'graduating' none the better. Where do you think many of them end up? Mat Rempits, Mat Minahs, snatch thieves.... before turning hardcore. Basically, many find their way into a life of crime. Studies have shown that. They have no skills despite the 11 years. They are conditioned to while their time away, running away from classes. They have no respect for the authority, having snubbed the school authority during their schooling years. They think they can perform a one-up against the system, having done it at school all the time.... tell me, isn't this a prime condition for the turning of a mind into a criminal one? 5 years in secondary school is long enough for a kid to be set hard in the concrete of attitude.
So while, a motivation camp at a prison may sound rather harsh, I think many teachers will agree with SUHAKAM that it is a good move. Shock and awe them while they can still be shocked for if we leave them be, they'll end up there anyway, after inflicting harm on some innocent and unsuspecting life. So, for crying out loud.... we should clamor for more of such programs for the hardcore recalcitrant ones at school. It might actually be doing the society good in the longer run.