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Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education moves to provide a school-based solution for crime and violence.
  • The 56 institutions include 18 non-traditional junior high/high schools, which were identified as having being attended by a high percentage of incarcerated persons.
  • The report identified the links between the behaviour patterns of children and their anti-social conduct.

A total of 56 schools across the island will receive special attention, beginning in February, as the Ministry of Education moves to provide a school-based solution for crime and violence.

The 56 institutions include 18 non-traditional junior high/high schools, which were identified in a Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) study, as having being attended by a high percentage of incarcerated persons.

“No one wants to put a pall of gloom or guilt on these institutions but they have to be singled out or they have been singled out only with the desire as far as the Ministry is concerned, to offer special attention,” said Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites said.

He made the comment as he tabled the study entitled: ‘Education and Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates in Jamaica’, on January 21, in the House of Representatives.

The report identified the links between the behaviour patterns of children and their anti-social conduct, both of which, it was argued, could most often be predicted from school days.

“The study also noted that many young persons, who ended up committing serious crimes, were frequently absent from school; exhibited cognitive or social abnormalities; were not assessed or treated adequately; and had little or no effective family, teacher support or certification.

Minister Thwaites said that the special intervention will seek to, among other things, identify troubled, deviant and seriously disadvantaged students; assess and address their situations; and prevent dropouts.

He informed that by April, the Ministry will appoint two social workers, who will be appointed to each of the six education regions, and they will network with relevant ministries and agencies.

“Very importantly, the programme is going to provide instructions to principals at the National College of Educational Leadership on how to identify and respond to disturbed students,” the Education Minister added.

Other initiatives to be pursued include: implementation of a programme to detect and address disruptive conduct and dropout risks in certain grades by September 2015; expand opportunities for students to become involved in uniformed groups, sports and creative arts; and engage the police and military as part of a team to periodically attend the most vulnerable schools in a non threatening way to befriend, promote order and reinforce positive constructive behaviour.

A coordinating committee to refine, implement and evaluate the initiatives has been identified and includes representatives of the Association of Guidance Counsellors; Deans of Discipline and School Safety; and representatives from the Ministries of Education, Youth and Culture, National Security, Justice and Social Security.