JIS News

With the new academic year set to get underway on September 7, schools are being encouraged to adopt a zero tolerance approach to indiscipline and illegal activities.
“We are saying to the parents, administrators and the teachers that whatever is illegal in society is also illegal within the schools and we expect that there should be no cover up to any of these criminal acts that take place in the schools,” said Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education, Alphansus Davis.
“(Illegal acts) are to be reported once they occur to the relevant authority for the necessary actions to be taken. The Ministry of Education is saying that principals and board chairmen are to exercise a zero tolerance approach to these occurrences,” he added.
Mr. Davis, who was speaking in an interview with JIS News, said that a number of strategies will either be implemented or intensified this school year to tackle the problem of indiscipline and violence in schools.
“We have intensified the Programme for Alternate Student Support (PASS). We hope to expand this programme come September and it will be made available to more schools where we do early detection of some of these problems and treat with them,” he told JIS News.
The PASS programme, he explained, will help the school administration to identify and treat with students, who are displaying disruptive, maladjusted or maladaptive behaviours and make the necessary referrals to the clinicians, who will work with them to effect the necessary changes in behaviour.
A feature of the PASS programme is a partial and fulltime pullout system, for those children who need to be taken out of the school system for effective treatment.
“Once we are able to get the parents and the teachers to give support to this programme, I think it will go a far way in helping to stem the high level of violence that we experience in schools each year. We also intend to have more national consultations with the parents as we tell them about the programmes we have to offer and ask for their support to ensure that the school year is more peaceful,” the Senior Advisor stated.
He informed that PASS is now in some 85 schools and the aim is to have it in all secondary schools.
“What happens, is that the principals request the programme when they see the need for it, so the PASS comes in with the necessary interventions. We are hoping that by January of 2010 it should be in all schools,” he said.
Efforts to reduce violence and disruptive behaviour will be assisted by the appointment of deans of discipline in all high schools this month. The dean of discipline will be charged with the responsibility of “working seriously” with the principal and the school population to maintain a high level of safety and security within the schools
In the meantime, Mr. Davis is appealing to students and communities to make this school year violence free.
“We are saying to students that school is a place for learning positive things and we are asking them when they get back to school to go there with a sense of purpose, work with their teachers, their parents in order to achieve the aims and objectives that are set by the school for them and make sure that each of them see their school as peaceful safe and secure.
“We are also calling upon the communities around the schools to lend support to the school administrators, teachers, parents, students and work with us to ensure that it is a very peaceful school year,” Mr. Davis urged.
He is also encouraging schools to implement strategic plans to counter any possible breach of the security systems in the schools.
“They (schools) will have to be street smart and know what their children are up to and put in place measures to counter those students, who may come up with alternate means of taking weapons to schools, so it is going to be left to the individual schools to come up with their counter plans,” he said.

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