JIS News

Various stakeholders within the education sector are collaborating to implement psychosocial and socio-emotional learning activities, to help reduce violence in schools.

The stakeholders include principals, guidance counsellors, health and family life teachers and the deans of discipline.

“We have developed a model that was shared with all schools, and we asked that the focus be given to our high schools, and in particular our fourth-form (grade-10) students, in the first round of these psychosocial and socio-emotional learning activities,” Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Faial Williams, said.

Speaking in the 2022/23 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on April 12, Mrs. Williams informed that since the resumption of full face-to-face classes this year, several high schools have come to national attention with fights and stabbings.

She mentioned the unfortunate stabbing death of Kamal Hall of William Knibb Memorial High School, as well as the death of 15-year-old Kenuth Williams from Papine High School, who was shot and killed on his way to school in a reported robbery attempt.

“We are focusing on our fourth-formers because for them the data is suggesting that the COVID-19 impact is greatest. Our current grade-10 students had their first year of high school, which was grade seven, in September 2018 to June 2019,” Mrs. Williams said.

“They would have missed approximately one-third of their second year, which was grade eight, during September 2019 to June 2020. They missed all of their third year, which was grade nine, during September 2020 to June 2021. They already missed about half of their fourth year, which is grade 10, during this current school year September 2021 to June 2022,” she pointed out.

She noted that the typical Grade-10 student is about 15 years old, just entering adolescence.

Mrs. Williams pointed out that almost two years of a structured school/learning environment have gone and almost two years of building friendships have gone.

“The typical grade-10 student is entering the teenage years (15 to 17). Psychologists say this is a time of change for how teenagers think, feel and interact with others, and a time of change for how their bodies grow. This is also an important time to prepare for more independence and responsibility, especially for our boys, and it is scary. It is a really, really rough time mentally for our grade-10 students in particular,” she said.

The Minister informed that an intervention will be held from April 25 to 29, 2022 under the theme ‘Embracing a Winning Well-being’. Mrs. Williams said schools have the flexibility to replicate and adapt this concept as the need arises.

“We want to focus on providing psychosocial support to our grade-10 students, primarily to help them through this period,” the Minister explained.

“Even while we are using measures that include suspension for fights and we use metal detectors and additional Resource Officers, we recognise that our students need some heavy-duty psychosocial support to begin to see a greater level of socio-emotional intelligence, competencies and skills that will enable our students to manage their emotions, thus getting to that state where they can resolve conflicts without violence,” she added.

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