JIS News

The Ministry of Education is taking a more proactive approach to school violence by placing focus on prevention.

This was disclosed by Chief Education Officer in the Ministry, Grace McLean, during a special Child Month edition of the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Issues and Answers programme.

She noted that while there are more than 800 guidance counsellors in the school system, along with deans of discipline, and some 200 school resource offices, “we have realised that there are so many issues that our students are being faced with, so we have to embark on more preventative approaches as against just reacting at the needs that may arise.”

She told JIS News that the Ministry has embarked on an intensive training programme in basic investigative techniques, where deans of disciplines and counsellors are being equipped to respond to the needs of children.

“I will say, though, we have to focus on getting our parents to play their part in ensuring that our children are prepared for school and the social challenges,” she stated.

As part of the preventive approach, Mrs. McLean informed that the Ministry is seeking to modify its conflict management programme that was developed several years ago and implemented within the school system.

“We are now looking back at this programme to see how we can provide some individual sessions for students; and there are many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are coming on board to provide support in that regard because we have found that our students are just not able to treat with conflicts and to deal with the emotional trauma,” the Chief Education Officer said.

On May 15, Portfolio Minister, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, tabled a Ministry Paper on a Behaviour Modification Programme.

The programme seeks to address the challenges of anti-social behaviour by students in some educational institutions.

Among the methods of intervention to be pursued is the engagement of a broad-based team consisting of representatives from the public and private sectors to design new strategies to deal with disruptive behaviours.

A school-wide Behaviour Management System will also be developed and implemented in each school, with technical support from guidance and counselling education officers and territorial education officers. It will also include a school support team, consisting of school personnel, parents, representatives from the community, private sector, and state departments.

Contact: Latonya Linton