Education Minister Emphasises Role Literacy Plays in Violence Reduction


Literacy plays an important part in reducing the intensity of violence in the society, as the inability to read or communicate effectively contributes significantly to the problem that is now affecting some schools.
This was the view expressed by Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, yesterday (March 17), when he addressed the opening of the international conference on adult education, hosted by the Jamaica Council for Adult Education (JACAE), in collaboration with the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning and the HEART Trust/NTA. The three-day conference is being held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Mr. Holness pointed out that much of the behaviour management strategies that the Ministry is exploring rests on ensuring that at the earliest level, students are trained to develop the skills, “so that as they move along the system, they can access the benefit of the curriculum to which they are exposed.”
“If you can’t read and write, you can’t access properly, a secondary education. You become frustrated and you become a distraction to the teacher and to the rest of your classmates, and it puts the education system in chaos,” he argued.
Therefore, Mr. Holness said, the challenge is to ensure that everyone has access. “If someone can’t read and write and they go for a job and the job requires them to sign a form, then they can’t access that job, and their behaviour oftentimes, is trying to cover up their inability to access, which leads to conflict and violence,” he noted.
“So, the Ministry of Education takes it (lifelong learning) very seriously, and we will be moving within the transformation to have it implemented as an important strategy, not just to control violence in schools, but violence in the society,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, he stressed the importance of giving students time within the formal school system to hone their skills, thus the government’s plan to extend the school-leaving age.
“Many of the students who leave the primary system are unable to access a secondary curriculum and many of the students leaving secondary schools are not leaving with the skills where they can positively access their environment, interpret their environment, articulate their problems, and navigate through the maze of decisions that they have to make. They just simply don’t have those skills. We have to make provisions to allow them to develop these skills,” the Minister emphasised.
The conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘The Learning City: a Vehicle for Community Transformation’, will cover topics such as: ‘Family life in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean’; ‘Crime and violence (effects and counter trends)’; ‘Information and communication technology’; ‘HIV in Jamaica (progress and challenges); ‘poverty and socio-economic development’; and ‘Learning for transformation’, among other subjects.

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