By Zoila Palma: In the digital age, parents, educators, and students are constantly on social media and often use it as an avenue to share personal events, promote items and events, and even to vent their frustrations.
But, there are reports that some primary schools in Belize are updating their policies as it relates to social media, discouraging parents from making criticisms against schools with significant repercussions for doing so.
One angry parent took to Facebook today to condemn the rise in registration fee at a primary school in Santa Elena but most notably, she shared a section of the school’s policy directed at parents who may want to complain online.
In addition, the parent shared the specific clause in the academic contract that notes that if a parent or student were to “ridicule” the school or any staff member on social media, the academic contract may be terminated.
“A parent or student shall in no way ridicule the school or any staff member on social media. This is considered unacceptable and unethical. Please note that this behavior or even condoning this behavior can result in the termination or annulment of an academic contract,” the clause states. Not surprisingly, since the original post was shared on Facebook, other parents and casual users have chimed in, many questioning the ethics of the policy itself.
Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca, told BBN that schools can adopt codes of conduct for their students but not for parents.
“No student can be terminated without due process and cannot be terminated because of the actions of their family members,” Fonseca said.
Minister Fonseca says that the Ministry of Education strongly encourages responsible and respectful use of social media.
“Social Media should not be used to bully or intimidate or ridicule students, teachers, or administrators,” Fonseca added.
BBN understands that several other schools have adopted similar rules. We also contacted the school in question for comment on the matter, however, the school’s management did not immediately respond.