JIS News

Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry-Wilson on (May 25) announced plans for all educators to be trained to recognize behavioural disorders in children at an early age.
With the help of teachers’ colleges, the Ministry is moving to address the increasing incidence of violent behaviour among students in schools, Mrs. Henry- Wilson informed, during her keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Mico University College Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE) Centre’s second Biennial Conference on Education and Behaviour Management, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.
Speaking against the background of what she said was “frightening” data on violence in the island’s schools, Mrs. Henry-Wilson noted that, “The fact of the matter is that, the management of behaviour in schools is becoming more and more difficult, and it’s not just violence, it runs the entire spectrum – from acute violence to children who do not know how to behave,” she told educators at the conference.
She noted that the Ministry’s first approach is to cap the problem at its earliest stage. “Priority has to be given to training all educators in what we call threshold recognition of behaviour difficulties. So we don’t wait until the child reaches grade seven and eight, and is not performing, then we say we can’t do anything about them. We are asking for the curricula of the teacher training colleges to insert in them at least 40 hours of what we call threshold recognition of special behaviour issues,” she stated.
The Education Minister advised that following this, cases should be referred to a special educator. In the meantime, she revealed that the Ministry is also examining other intervention strategies to support teachers facing behavioural difficulties in the classroom.
“We haven’t got approval yet, but we are also looking at the employment of psychologists who will be attached to what we see as special education centres,” she added.
These centres, she noted, would model the Mico CARE centre, which assesses and treats children with learning disabilities as well as behavioural disorders. The new centres may initially be operated as regional centres, “then we would move towards making them sub-regional,” Mrs. Henry-Wilson divulged.
She also expressed the hope of creating partnerships with the church community, which she noted, has a range of resources and in many communities, already play an integral role in assisting schools with trauma counselling.
“We want to also be able to use them for some of our reference work, referring to their professionals, some of the children that we may have to help in terms of intervention,” she told the gathering.
The conference is being held under the theme: ‘Education and Behaviour Management: Keys to Reducing Violence in our Schools and Communities,’ and will conclude on Saturday (May 26).

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