Conflict resolution skills being used to promote safe schools
– Education Ministry
Under the theme “Promoting a Culture of Security and Safety in Schools” the Education Ministry is aiming to equip school managers with the requisite skills to respond to critical situations, and generally, to maintain order and discipline in school.
In a release, the ministry noted that the strategy being used inculcates teachers with conflict resolution skills, and teaches them ways of preventing and addressing critical incidents. It also addresses issues such as access to schools, managing of illegal weapons and illicit substances in schools, monitoring of gangs, associations, anti-social cliques, and dealing with the aftermath of an incident.
The ministry is also moving to increase the number of guidance and counselling officers in the school system from 10 to 40. These officers will be tasked with visiting selected schools. Currently, the officers in the systems have been visiting the homes and counselling students who require help.
Addressing school managers throughout the country at a recent consultation convened at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Education Minister Shaik Baksh said the protocol document will guide teachers to better respond to the challenges of indiscipline confronting the school system.
He pointed out that these situations sometimes result in the loss of time allotted for learning and can jeopardise the time delivery of the curriculum.
Minister Baksh affirmed that though every incident of violence is a cause for concern and is dealt promptly with when reported, the situation in Guyana is not a crisis, noting that the country is nowhere close to what happens in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and some states in the U.S.
Baksh stressed that the goal is to enable teachers to understand learners beyond the classroom, noting that the situation in the home in most cases has a bearing on the children’s behaviour.
He contended that if teachers know the background of their students, they will be in a better position to respond to them, and avoid worsening their agony.
The Education Ministry in responding to this need has introduced the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) programme in 30 schools, and will be rolling-out the programme in another 40 schools in September.
In an effort to promote safe and conducive learning environments, the ministry has also introduced a range of initiatives including a mentoring programme and students’ councils in schools.
Baksh reported that these interventions have resulted in a reduction of indiscipline in schools, and suggested that apart from the programmes in place, headteachers should invite non-governmental organisation officials, the police and religious leaders to talk to students about discipline, morals and values, road safety and other important matters.
This, he said, will significantly support the work of the ministry in terms of building the self-esteem and confidence of students and placing them on a trajectory to be responsible and productive citizens.