The Ministry of Education has extended the Schools Security and Safety Programme to include Junior High and All Age Schools, to further curb violence in schools.
The programme was officially launched by Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, on Tuesday (January 11) at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston.
According to Mr. Holness, the project, first launched in high schools several years ago, has been quite successful.
“After two years of implementation, after two years of evaluation and review, the programme at the high school level is a success. In fact, what we have seen is that most of the incidents that are occurring in the schools, have shifted off the school compound and we see them now in the public areas,” he remarked.
Mr. Holness however said this trend was still a concern, as these incidents take place during school hours, while the students were still under the school’s jurisdiction. He said Ministry and the various school leaders will be working to reduce these cases.
“We have defined the school to be anywhere the student is during school time. So, if the school time is between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. and it is a school day, you should be under the jurisdiction of your school, you are still in school,” the Minister said.
Mr. Holness also noted a reduction in incidents relating to cell phone use in schools.
“This was a major problem in schools, but the reports that we have seen show where there has been a dramatic decline. People are now developing a culture that is catching up with the technology and so most schools, if not all schools, are implementing the rules,” he said.
The Minister said it was now important to develop a culture of safety throughout the system, and this culture would be extended to primary and junior high levels.
Initiated in 2004, the Safe Schools Programme involves officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) acting as School Resource Officers (SROs) to mentor troubled students in targeted institutions and mediate in disputes, as well as collaborate with the school administration to identify and monitor areas on their compounds that pose potential danger to students.