JIS News

In trying to play its part in reducing violence in schools, the Westmoreland Health Department (WHD) has been carrying out a series of training seminars for teachers and students in selected schools across that parish.
Eight students from the New Hope Primary and Junior High School, located in the Whitehouse area of the parish, were exposed to a four-day training session in peer counselling during the month of July, while 15 teachers from that institution were exposed to a two-day training seminar in conflict resolution on August 29 and 30.
According to Assistant Education Officer with the Westmoreland Health Department, Gerard Miller, there are plans to extend the conflict resolution seminars in the near future, to include members of the immediate community surrounding the school, as well as members of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA).
He said that the WHD is carrying out the seminars through collaboration and funding from the Peace And Love in Schools (PALS) organization.
“The students were trained in peer counselling techniques, how they are to relate to their peers as it relates to conflicts that might develop, and to deal with problems of sexuality,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the training of the teachers in conflict resolution would compliment the training being given to the students. “We are going to be working with this institution in a holistic way, to include training the school population about health related issues as well,” he said.
Mr. Miller pointed out that the WHD is placing much emphasis on the programme it is carrying out at the New Hope Primary and Junior High School as it wants to replicate the model in other schools throughout the parish during the ensuing academic year. He said that the WHD has received numerous requests from guidance counsellors of schools within the parish, to establish the peer-counselling programme within their respective institutions.
Principal of the New Hope School, Franklyn Beckford, told JIS News that he attached a lot of importance to the implementation of the training sessions for the students and teachers, as he viewed this as a proactive move.
“As a school we think it’s very important that we are proactive. We do not want to wait until our students become overly violent, so we are taking the necessary precautions and the necessary steps to ensure that we train first of all, our teachers, and secondly, our students, in the whole business of conflict resolution,” he stated.
He explained that the eight students that were recently trained now brought to 25, the number of trained student peer counselors attending the New Hope School. The school has a student population of approximately 1,200.
Mr. Beckford expressed the view that all principals should grasp the opportunity to have the programme implemented in their schools, and suggested that the training could be carried out by clustering the schools to maximize the numbers of students and teachers being trained.
PALS Trainer, Glenda Drummond, who was one of the facilitators at the New Hope School sessions, praised the teachers for their level of participation in the sessions, adding that she was very impressed with the interactive way in which the sessions took place.