Minister of Education Fayval Williams says greater collaboration between the ministry and Jamaicans locally and in the diaspora is critical to tackling the culture of violent confrontations among students in schools.
Addressing a seminar, dubbed ‘Violence in Schools and its Impact on Society’, at the First Assembly of God in Ocho Rios on Sunday (February 26), the minister emphasised that a “participatory approach” is needed to curb the prevalence of peer violence, which is sometimes meted out to the teaching staff.
“It’s not just the MOEY (Ministry of Education and Youth) and its regional offices; it’s not just our principals and teachers on the ground; it is also parents and communities… an all-Jamaica approach. Let us join hands and see if we can significantly reduce the level of violence that we are seeing in our schools,” said the minister.
She noted that the ministry has already launched an ‘End the Violence’ initiative in schools that calls on Jamaicans and organisations to support efforts to create and sustain a culture of discipline and peace in the home, school and community.
Additionally, Williams stated that the ministry’s Safety and Security Unit is also active in schools to promote the well-being of students and staff.
“In developing our Safety and Security Policy Guidelines, we have included guidelines for the management of substance misuse in the school system, safety guidelines for contact sports, field trip policy guidelines, management and disposal of hazardous material and equipment,” Williams explained.
“You might be saying what does this have to do with violence in school. We have found that anything that can trigger a dispute and, in the absence of clear guidelines on how to address these, disagreements over seemingly minor matters can escalate to the point of physical combat,” she added.
According to Williams, the ministry intends to further expand the programmes to facilitate the re-socialisation of students but “we have to come together to see how we can stop this violence that we are seeing in our schools.”
The seminar was organised by the Kiwanis Club of St Ann and featured participants from the parish’s teaching fraternity, as well as members of the diaspora, who joined via an online platform.
The seminar sparked several discussions on strategies and recommendations on how the country can better help to address the impact of violence among students.