Character Counts working wonders at Holy Rosary Primary
AT THE Holy Rosary Primary School in St Andrew, character counts; students who display good character traits are awarded at prize-giving and graduation ceremonies. The top honour is the Peacemaker Award.
On National Heroes Day, a student hero and heroine are recognised and commended at the school's general assembly.
According to principal Barbara Kamtha, the student population at the Holy Rosary Primary has undergone a metamorphosis since the introduction of the Character Counts programme in 2010. This programme is a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in California, and has been widely used in the United States and other parts of the world. The main thrust of the Character Counts programme is based on the six pillars of character: responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, and citizenship.
Character Counts, which also overlaps with the Culture in Education programme at the Ministry of Education, transcends religious, political and socio-economic differences.
Elaborating on how the programme works, Kamtha says most teachers have been trained in conflict resolution and mediation. Since receiving the basic training, the school has been introducing one Character Counts pillar per month using Bible passages, stories, pictorial representation and examples to impart the objectives to the students. For example, the act of 'caring' would comprise kindness, compassion, sharing and charity. These would be illustrated using biblical references, such as the Good Samaritan, the Feeding of the Multitude, the Prodigal Son, and the compassion of Jesus as displayed in His miracles and His relationship with many persons who had been classified as outcasts.
The Holy Rosary Primary principal says the Character Counts programme has worked wonders with the students' confidence and self-esteem. She notes that sharing problems, along with receiving advice from a sympathetic individual, has enabled pupils to develop strategies to deal with many of the stumbling blocks hindering their personal advancement. In addition, students are more responsible, orderly and respectful of each other. Since the programme was introduced, day-to-day interaction with adults has also shown significant improvement, she added.
"When children learn a consistent set of universal values modelled by teachers, their behaviour progresses and focus on education soars," stated Kamtha.