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  • The Government is looking at giving deans of discipline powers of special district constables in order for them to better handle some of the behavioural problems of students.
  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said that having recognised that the role of dean of discipline “is an arduous task,” he has had discussion with National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, regarding the possibility of strengthening the powers of these individuals.
  • The Education Minister said that deans of discipline will be required to play a key role in addressing poor attendance and student dropout.

The Government is looking at giving deans of discipline powers of special district constables in order for them to better handle some of the behavioural problems of students.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said that having recognised that the role of dean of discipline “is an arduous task,” he has had discussion with National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, regarding the possibility of strengthening the powers of these individuals.

“Many of you face anti-social problems for which you are not empowered…it may well be necessary for (deans of discipline) to be sworn in as special district constables so that you can do what needs to be done in situations of danger and vulnerability,” he said.

Minister Thwaites was addressing the closing ceremony for the deans of discipline training programme at the Jamaica Theological Seminary in St. Andrew on July 24.

He told them that the Government appreciates their role in helping to socialise and re-socialise students.

He further called on them to assist the Ministry in developing strategies to adequately deal with the social realities of young people as it works to revise the Code of Conduct and the Education Act regulations, which he noted, are “woefully inadequate to deal with the social problems that we face.”

The Education Minister said that deans of discipline will be required to play a key role in addressing poor attendance and student dropout.

He argued that even if a student’s  academic achievement is not up to par, attending school reduces by 40 per cent, the chance of he/she becoming engaged in criminal activities  or joining a gang.

 

“It is part of the remit of the deans of discipline and the accountability of principals that from now on, every student that is in danger of dropping out, or habitually absents themselves from school, is going to have to be reported…and we are going to have to ask the police to come with us not to arrest the parent, but rather to use the institution of law in the society to impress upon the (student) the importance of regular attendance at school,” he said.

Minister Thwaites said that addressing discipline in schools will devote more time for teaching and learning.  He said in Jamaica, only 61 per cent of class time is dedicated to teaching and learning, while the remainder of the time is spent solving disciplinary and other problems. Worldwide, the average is 85 per cent

“We are going to go nowhere in the transformation of education, in the creation of that number one priority of the country, which is a trained and socialised and educated workforce, unless we are able to reach those standards of instruction in an already truncated academic year (with)  limited days of instruction,” he contended.

Meanwhile, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, who was guest speaker at the event, said the job of the deans of discipline is important, not only in terms of improving order in the schools, but in allowing the academic environment to thrive, thereby enabling students to maximise their potential.

A total of 80 deans of discipline from schools across the island benefited from the one-week intensive training course.

Deans of discipline are mandated to, among other things, provide intervention for students’ disciplinary issues; develop appropriate programmes to promote positive behaviour; monitor, develop and implement student behavioural contracts; keep a log of students’ attendance and truancy issues; communicate disciplinary concerns to parents and staff; and ensure the overall safety of the school premises.