– Minister Baksh
Through the institutionalisation of Student Councils at schools across the country, the Ministry of Education is gearing to incorporate the support of students in its quest to make the public education system a violence-free zone.
This move, according to Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, will in fact serve to give students a voice, whereby they could highlight matters that are of concern to them and the school as a whole.
“They (students) must have a say in what is taking place. They must participate,” the Minister passionately asserted. He noted that in order for this venture to become a true success, teachers will have to be trained to aid the implementation process. This measure, he revealed, was in the past included in the school system but had become defunct, thus the need for its re-activation.
“With this in place, our children will be taking on responsibilities. There will be a structure, so that children can participate by reporting problems that occur in the schools. This in effect will help with the disciplining of students themselves…”
According to the Minister, under the new Education Legislation (which is still at the Attorney General’s Chambers) provision has been made for the establishment of student councils. The councils once established will monitor students’ behaviour, report on conduct and performance of teachers in the classroom, assist head teachers to devise school rules and policies and work with schools in enforcing guidelines.
But even before the Education Legislation comes into place, the Minister anticipates that the establishment of Student Councils will be introduced. In fact he has proposed that some schools will have this measure in place by September.
The establishment of Student Councils comes as merely one of the measures that the Ministry has streamlined for revamping the education system.
Also, a vibrant voluntary mentorship programme is expected to be introduced to various schools as part of the efforts to help stamp out violence in schools. And already, a number of persons have promised to volunteer their time to this venture.
“I really appreciate those persons who have come forward, they will be trained… not for many hours, perhaps two hours a week, and we will target through the school system those children that we will have this mentoring programme for.”
And to aid this move, the Minister said that the Ministry is currently developing training programmes and a manual so that a step-by-step approach to mentoring will be known by those volunteering.
Nonetheless, Minister Baksh revealed that the Ministry will seek some additional support, adding that already help is forthcoming from consultancies.
Three international organisations have pledged financial support to the Ministry to implement these strategies and programmes, according to the Minister. “We are getting the support we need and we will not be daunted even in the face of sensationalised news reports.”
The Ministry is also looking to put in place a Health, Family, Life and Education Programme to ensure that children understand the meaning of self-respect and life skills which are important factors to their academic development.
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