JIS News

The Ministry of Education, frustrated with the increased incidents of violence in schools, has partnered with Peace and Love in Society (PALS) to implement a five-year behaviour modification programme, aimed at reducing anti-social and disruptive behaviours.
The Ministry will provide $7 million for the first phase of the project, which will run from May to December, and will involve 90 primary and junior high schools, and 12 high schools, representing the first time that PALS is extending its programme to the secondary level.
“For years, we have not had the resources to go into the high schools as we would have liked,” said General Manager of PALS, Janilee Abrikian, at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project yesterday (May 7) at the Ministry in Kingston.
“However, with the funding from the Education Ministry, PALS is now able to take its message of peace into high schools,” she pointed out.
Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, informed that the schools chosen for this phase of the project were selected based on urgency. Notable among them is Ascot High in St. Catherine, which had a recent incident of violence, and was added at the last minute, along with two others.
According to the Education Minister, “the problem of anti-social behaviour in schools is so widespread we could classify it as endemic. It is not just challenging, but for some schools, it is overwhelming.”
He said a significant component of the programme with PALS will be the training of teachers to manage anti-social behaviours. “We live in an era where students are exposed to alternatives, many of which they don’t thoroughly understand, but which they have a choice to make, so our challenge, as teachers, is to guide them towards the right choice, including the right choice in behaviour,” he stated.
“Even in this time of crisis, we see behaviour management as such a critical part of school performance, that we have decided to invest in it,” Mr. Holness noted further, while heaping praises on the model developed by PALS, which he described as “impressive”.
Other components of the programme, which is part of the Ministry’s Behaviour Management Strategy are: post-training support for teachers; training for students; critical incident management; and collaboration with school administration and senior management.
PALS was launched in 1994 with the goal of creating a gentler society by focusing on children. Initially called Peace and Love in Schools, the acronym was eventually changed to reflect the need to reach the wider society.

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