Respectful Conduct in Public School Community in Sri Lanka: Exploring the Policy and Program Framework
In organizational development literature, ‘Respectful conduct’ refers to acceptable standards of behavior rejecting violence, discrimination, bullying, or harassment. In a workplace setting, respectful conduct is ensured by introducing policies on behavioral standards, remedies to address policy breaches, and programs to build staff capacities to implement such policies. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that disrespectful conduct is a common problem in public schools in Sri Lanka, and the school system is poorly equipped to address the issue. Clarifying the existing laws concerning respectful conduct, this article explores policy reforms, remedial pathways, and program mechanisms to solve the problem. The key research question posed in this article is ‘what policy and program initiatives are required to ensure respectful conduct in schools under the existing legal setting in Sri Lanka?’ This research aims to identify gaps in existing policy and program frameworks and propose policy measures to fill the gaps based on the international best practices. The methodology adopted in this study includes a survey of local and international literature on the problem of institutional level disrespectful conduct and appropriate solutions. This study also consists of a policy review conducted by collating the instruments currently being applied in the public school system. Based on the analysis, this study proposes several components of a policy framework, including remedial pathways supplemented by a program mechanism to implement such policies in public schools in Sri Lanka.
Keywords: Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying, Violence, Respect, Schools, Policies, Programs