There is little doubt that the discipline of students is appalling, particularly in Malé schools. According to a student source who wants to remain anonymous, his classmates in a famous school in the capital often take mineral water bottles filled with Vodka for drinking and selling during the interval. Smoking and selling cigarettes and supari are also widespread.
Many parents believe the problem is at least partially due to the negative influence of a few wayward students, and these 'bad apples' should be removed to save the remaining apples in the barrel. However, Education Ministry and educationalists have steadfastly refused to expel any students except in very rare instances. This is a protracted controversy with strong arguments on both sides.
A typical argument could go like this, "As a young person in the mid twenties and a teacher, I feel that the influence of any drug on pupil learning and behavior is bound to be detrimental and if left unpunished then others will follow suit."
A counter argument could go, "Expelling pupils leads to social exclusion and increases the likelihood of crime becoming a way of life, rather than just teenage misdemeanor."
And … "I would go further; they should be sent to borstal. Our attitudes to bad behavior have been far too tolerant. This would be quite a lenient sentence to many of us and a real deterrent. Let's restore some modicum of law and order rather than the liberal instigated persecution of decent ordinary people. Society must have deterrents to protect the decent law abiding majority."
… "Of course children should be expelled from school if they are known to have drugs. They are a bad influence on other children and parents have a right to know that their child will be protected from drugs, the same as they should be protected from guns or knives. The over-riding factor is very clear, drugs ruin lives. I believe that the message of teachers/heads should be explicitly clear, bring drugs into my school and you're out!"
With increasing juvenile violence in Malé streets, discipline is no longer a mere school issue. It is rather a national issue. The question is, will expelling the bad students from school improve school discipline or will it merely lead to the expelled students becoming street thugs?