Sun | Jan 29, 2023

More school stakeholders to receive training in conflict resolution

Published:Thursday | May 5, 2022 | 12:06 AMAsha Wilks/Staff Reporter
Grace Ann Stewart McFarlane (seated left), permanent secretary, acting, in the Ministry of Justice, and Dr Kasan Troupe (seated right), chief education officer, sign the Restorative Practices Training MOU while looking on (standing, from left) are Richard
Grace Ann Stewart McFarlane (seated left), permanent secretary, acting, in the Ministry of Justice, and Dr Kasan Troupe (seated right), chief education officer, sign the Restorative Practices Training MOU while looking on (standing, from left) are Richard Troupe, director, Safety and Security in School Unit of the Ministry of Education; Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck; Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams, and Andriene Lindsay, restorative justice coordinator, at the Restorative Practices Training MOU signing at the Ministry of Education and Youth in Kingston on Tuesday.

The ministries of justice and education have reaffirmed their commitment to the training of administrative staff, parents, and students in restorative techniques to counter the increased levels of school violence seen since full resumption of face-to-face classes on March 7.

At a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony on Tuesday, restorative justice coordinator, Andriene Lindsay, reported that since the programme’s inception five years ago, 250 sessions were held, benefiting nearly 4,000 school administrators.

In this new phase of the programme, students and parents will be involved in the training sessions.

“Today marks the day that we renew – not start – our partnership, signifying the expansion of both ministries’ training and development efforts, promoting best practices in conflict resolution and enhancing community cohesion,” Lindsay said.

The 104 training sessions, which will run for two months, will begin next week, targeting more than 3,100 persons.

The ministry will also mobilise five schools as well as parents and students in the process.

The programme seeks to boost the morale of students and is designed from a preventative perspective so as to develop an understanding between individuals and cultivate a culture of positivity and team spirit, said Lindsay.

Education Minister Fayval Williams explained that this was a necessary intervention to spark positive change, which could benefit the wider society.

Speaking with The Gleaner, she expressed a wish for the implementation of restorative interventions to also be included in early childhood institutions.

“Children learn what they see; they learn from us as adults. It’s a great time to be teaching how to resolve conflicts,” she said, while noting that while toddlers may not fully understand the complexities of how conflict resolution works, it is not too soon to strengthen their awareness of right versus wrong. Lessons could be learnt from squabbles over toys, she said, giving an example.

By the time children get to the primary and the high school levels, she said, they would be better equipped to deal with heightened levels of emotion and tension among their peers and themselves.

“What that means is the training needs to continue. It can’t be one-off,” she added.

“We are anticipating that as the training rolls out in our schools, that our students, our teachers, our parents will embrace this as another tool that they can use to navigate life’s many challenges and conflict situations that they may come up on,” said Williams.

She added that her ministry had to roll out and utilise all the tools it could to the incidence of violence in schools.

Following a number of bloody conflicts in schools, including one fatality in March, Williams urged administrators to implement stronger security measures to protect students and staff. Handheld metal detectors were also deployed to many schools, which are used to detect weapons being brought on to the compounds.

In 2018, through the Safety and Security in Schools Unit, all public high schools were equipped with metal detectors.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com