Ministry getting tough on wayward students
Published: Thursday | August 6, 2009
In an attempt to stamp out violence in schools, the Ministry of Education will be deploying deans of discipline to 86 secondary schools across the island, starting September.
The enforces are to implement the ministry's behaviour management strategy which is aimed at ensuring the overall security, safety, and well-being of students and staff. They are expected to allow teachers, who grapple with indiscipline in the classrooms daily, to focus mainly on academic issues.
The implementation will come one year after Education Minister Andrew Holness announced that the ministry would formalise the process of assigning deans of discipline.
Deans of discipline, who would be reporting to the principals and collaborating with other stakeholders, will design, coordinate and implement safety and security programmes at schools.
According to Colin Blair, director of communications at the Ministry of Education, the ministry is working assiduously to rid schools of violent conduct.
"With the level of violence that exists in schools today, the ministry is working to get a hold on the situation, in an effort to make the environment a much safer place for learning," he said.
Blair stated that, over time, the initiative would be extended to all secondary schools, but the programme would first address institutions with the greatest need for intervention.
However, he was unable to give a timeline on a full roll-out of the programme.
Among the list of competencies that the persons are expected to possess are the ability to demonstrate flexible and creative management of disciplinary issues and the capacity to develop effective reporting mechanisms.
In the meantime, Jamaica Teachers' Association President Doran Dixon has raised concerns about the salary package offered to deans of discipline.
He said while he welcomed the safety initiative, the level of compensation could cause anomalies at some institutions.
"This could have a disruptive influence, as in some instances these persons would be paid more than the principals that supervise them," he argued.
"If you are trying to change a system and you have a disruptive element, you have to guard against it, as you may not get the result needed."
The minimum salary for deans of discipline is $1,524,969 and $420,000 travel allowance per annum.