Over the last decade violence and indiscipline have been increasing in our schools at an alarming rate. This phenomenon mirrors the situation in the society at large. The Ministry of Education has developed the Peace Promotion Programme to address this disturbing trend in the schools.
The long term goal of the Peace Promotion Programme is to create a culture of peace - in the individual, the school, the home, the community and the society at large. It aims to build up a defence and resilience against any tendency or inducement to violence and indiscipline.
Activities in the Programme are directed to students, teachers, parents and communities. While teachers are our key agents and front line "soldiers" as we "wage peace" against violence and indiscipline, the programme distinguishes itself from others in the Ministry in the almost exclusive use of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and its collaboration with other government ministries and the private sector.
ROLES AND FUNCTION OF THE PROGRAMME
Among the projects of the Peace Programme directed to students, one of the most extensive and effective has been Training in Mediation, Peer Counselling and Conflict Resolution. A project that has been significantly changing behaviour and attitudes among students is the Pre-Carnival Preparation Programme in which NGOs and well known local artists have been conducting interactive and dramatic workshops to guide students in avoiding the pitfalls associated with Carnival, like alcohol and other drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, fighting and aggressive behaviour.
Another project that is designed to reduce the violence and indiscipline caused by those students who are finding it difficult to assimilate the conventional secondary school curriculum is the Skill Based or Alternative Education Project. The project is designed particularly to meet the needs, special interests and learning styles of those low achiever students who are being transferred from primary to secondary schools.
Student Councils are being developed in all secondary schools for it is understood that student participation in the management of a school significantly contributes to the reduction of violence and indiscipline.
In order to assist teachers to manage their classrooms to ensure maximum quality education production, the Peace Promotion Programme has been conducting training courses for teachers throughout the system in Management of the Classroom –Alternatives to Corporal Punishment. There has also been training for teachers in Stress and Anger Understanding and Management, for it is recognized that teaching has become a most stressful occupation. This training helps teachers to be better in control of themselves and to establish discipline in their classroom.
The Peace Promotion Programme also includes a project in Parenting in which community leaders are being trained to go back to their communities to organize courses, workshops and other educational activities to improve the parenting skills in families.
A Joint Action Plan with the Ministry of National Security has led to the introduction of School Safety Officers in schools to assist school principals in providing a safe and secure environment and ‘keep the peace’ in the school. The plan also includes a project in Mentoring.
The projects and activities which the Ministry has been conducting within the Peace Promotion Programme have been producing evidence in behaviour and attitude modification amongst students. The Ministry intends to stay the course towards the ultimate creation of a Culture of Peace in the individual, the school, the family and society at large.