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Story Highlights

  • The programme targets youth with behavioural problems, who are currently on suspension from school.
  • Under the initiative, they are taught anger management and conflict resolution skills.
  • The Minister said the programme is of tremendous value to students, teachers and parents.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has lauded the work of the School Suspension Intervention Programme (SSIP), noting that the initiative continues to change the lives of many students.

The programme, which is an initiative of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), targets youth with behavioural problems, who are currently on suspension from school.

Under the initiative, they are taught anger management and conflict resolution skills in an effort to curtail violent and disruptive behaviour.

Speaking at an SSIP Tracer Survey Stakeholder Consultation at the DRF’s headquarters in Kingston, on October 30, the Minister said the programme is of tremendous value to students, teachers and parents, as during the period of suspension, the students are taught valuable lessons and are sensitised on areas such as violence reduction.

Rev. Thwaites further commended the schools that have participated in the programme, pointing out that this is a proactive approach to managing violence in schools.

“I encourage students who have passed through the programme to share the positive values they have learnt and become peacemakers at their schools and in their communities,” he added.

During the period, October 2011 to September 2012, a total of 1,021 students between 13 and 18 years (638 males and 383 females) benefited from the SSIP.

They were suspended from school for infringements ranging from extortion, fighting and gambling, to the formation of gangs.

Chief Executive Officer of the DRF, Paul Hines, said the SSIP model is based on the premise that children and adolescents can be taught to resist violent conflict by teaching them anger management and conflict resolution skills, as well as offering them mediation and restorative justice interventions.

He said the programme also aims to strengthen the students’ resilience by building their self-esteem.

Chairman of the DRF, John Bassie, said the Foundation is extremely proud of the SSIP and is committed to keeping it alive, as it actively contributes to the development of the Jamaican society.

“The objectives of this programme seek to deal with the fundamental caustic issues that are affecting our youth and which impact their ability to function normally at school as they prepare to make their way into adulthood and to deal with all the stresses that accompany it,” he explained.

In the meantime, Research Consultant, Audrey Brown, informed that the DRF, in conjunction with UNICEF, commissioned a Tracer Study to explore the long-term impact of the SSIP on the behaviour of students involved in the programme.

Ms. Brown revealed that students participating in the survey and the focus groups said the SSIP was “an excellent programme,” pointing out that it changed their lives and helped to make them better people.

The survey also found that 94 per cent of students participating in the programme said if they were teachers they would refer a student to the SSIP.

The SSIP began in 2008 and has since been implemented in more than 100 schools in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, Clarendon, St. Catherine, and St. James.