JIS News

Some 120 schools islandwide are to participate in the ‘Trees for Peace’ initiative, an activity being spearheaded by the Citizenship Education Programme (CEP) within the Ministry of Education to observe Peace Month.
Programme Manager of the CEP, Celia Champagnie explained that the ‘Trees for Peace’ initiative will involve the planting of trees in schools throughout Peace Month, which will be observed from February 6 to March 4.
“We have schools participating from regions one and six, which include the parishes of Kingston, St. Andrew, Clarendon, St. Catherine and other schools from St. James and St. Ann,” she outlined to JIS News.
She informed that the Forestry Department will be providing each school with at least six trees, including the ackee, blue mahoe; the national flower, lignum vitae and other trees requested by the schools. In addition to the planting of trees, the Programme Manager said that students would participate in a competition requiring them to inform and educate the school population about the trees and be responsible for their overall upkeep and maintenance.
Miss Champagnie pointed out that debating and song competitions would run concurrently with the tree-planting exercise within the 120 schools.
The debating competition, she noted, would surround the issue of safety and security in schools and would involve students of various age groups. The concepts from these debates would be presented in the form of a document to the Prime Minister reflecting the children’s ideas regarding peace and security in their schools.
On the song competition, Miss Champagnie said that, “we want the children to participate in creating songs about peace and for peace. We will produce a CD which will be available to the public.”
She explained that although the competitions and tree-planting exercise would be held throughout Peace Month, the students would be rewarded in September for their efforts. Schools would be awarded for the best kept trees, the debating and song competitions and for heightening awareness about trees within the schools.
The Programme Manager informed that the 120 schools selected are part of initiatives or groups geared at transforming education and behaviour within the school environment.
These groups include: the Citizenship Education Programme, Inner-city Schools Programme, Violence Prevention Alliance, Safe Schools Programme and Peace and Love in Society (PALS).
“They (the schools) were selected because of the leadership in the schools, the performance of the schools and include non-traditional and traditional high and primary schools,” Miss Champagnie disclosed.
The importance of peace initiatives in schools, she pointed out, “is to celebrate and recognize the peace and prosperity within the schools. We want to enhance the concepts and notions of respect for other human beings, respect for self and the environment and create a relationship of stewardship of the environment.”