Tue | Sep 27, 2022

A call to action for emotional learning education

Published:Friday | June 24, 2022 | 12:05 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Sometimes I feel like my voice is so weak in advocating for social and emotional learning education to be systematised in our nation. Sometimes I feel like I am calling out from the wilderness and no one is hearing me. Despite this, I will continue to advocate.

It was Nelson Mandela who said: “Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world!” If we want to see changes in our peoples’ attitude and behaviour, we must first start with changing their mindset! We can only do this through an intentional, long-term education programme for the entire country. Jamaica lacks social and emotional learning, which teaches people emotional intelligence, social awareness, human relations skills, stress management, etc. The research on the benefits of social and emotional education is solid!

Again, I call for the systematisation of social and emotional learning not just in schools, but in every nook and cranny in the island. The media will have a major role to play. I believe that people are inherently good, but they must be trained/socialised in how to develop good character, attitudes and behaviours. I implore the policymakers and leaders to act fast.

The murders in Chapleton should never be allowed to be repeated on this little island. It was Brad Sugars who said: “Words can inspire; thoughts can provoke, but only action can take us closer to our dreams!” Action, not a ‘bag of mouth’! What action will the leaders and policymakers take to ensure that this scenario never repeat itself? Or will this be another nine-day talk, then we go right back to our normal routines and life continues – until another gruesome act, and then we repeat the cycle of outcry, then back to normality?

We want to hear the action plans for changing the mindset of the people of this nation. We want to hear more about character education in schools. We want to hear about compulsory parenting education programmes for the homes. Let’s not forget that everything rises and falls on leadership. I am calling on leaders in all sectors – church leaders, political leaders, business leaders, community leaders and family leaders. We all have a responsibility as leaders to take action in ensuring that the people we serve are socially and emotionally competent. But first and foremost, we need to ask ourselves if we are socially and emotionally competent. Let’s have these conversations – let’s never forget what happened in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon.

This is a call to action.

ANISA WILSON-SMITH

Guidance Counsellor and

Child and Youth Advocate