Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness, has implored newly appointed Deans of Discipline to ensure they are not seen as “enforcers with a belt”, but that they develop a sustainable framework for maintaining discipline in schools.
“Any behaviour management strategy that relies on fear is usually very short term. It doesn’t change behaviour, all it does is it controls behaviour,” he noted.
Mr. Holness was addressing the Deans of Discipline at an orientation at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston, Wednesday (October 7), for the first batch of persons employed in the post by the Ministry of Education.
The idea for the position of Dean of Discipline emerged out of concerns about the growing level of indiscipline and crime in schools, and the need to have persons dedicated to behaviour management.
Minister of Education, Hon Andrew Holness, delivering the charge to 30 newly appointed Deans of Discipline and school principals at Wednesday’s (October 7) orientation seminar for the Deans, at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston.
Mr. Holness noted that even while trying to manage the behaviour of students, the Deans of Discipline should ensure that they consider the rights of children first. He also pointed out that a major component of their work would be to boost the self-worth of students.
“One of the best ways to control behaviour and to inure good behavior, is to answer the question ‘Who am I?’ Much of what you see being expressed as [bad] behaviour is a search for identity,” Mr. Holness explained.
He said the Deans should ensure that there is consultation, before new standards are set, and that there is an associated system of sanctions and rewards. He said that it was their job to ensure that there is a system of recording and reporting incidents of indiscipline, as well.
Mr. Holness was also adamant that the Deans should not neglect their duty to report instances in which students break the laws.
“For the possession of a dangerous weapon, that is a zero-tolerance event. That child must be reported to the police, “he pointed out.
Mr. Holness said that the Deans’ performances will be evaluated, after the first year. He noted that the evaluation would be based on their progress in putting in systems, to ensure the long-term management of students’ behaviours.
Acting Assistant Chief Education Officer with responsibility for Guidance and Counselling in the Ministry of Education, Antoinette Brooks, said the 30 Deans of Discipline at the orientation, represented the first batch that has been interviewed and accepted for the position.
She also said that the Ministry intends to have training sessions on a monthly basis, over the next six months, for the Deans.
Another 57 are to be recruited by the end of next month, bringing the total number to 87. The Ministry is targeting persons who are trained in education, guidance and counselling, social work, psychology and other behavioural fields.
She said the Deans will focus on the safety and security of the schools, bearing in mind that safety and security is about enhancing the children’s well-being to become “goal-oriented, successful, worthwhile nation builders”.