Policy to help teachers deal with violence in schools almost complete – ministry

The Ministry of Education is in the process of finalising a strategy to guide teachers to respond to the challenge of indiscipline in schools.

In a press release the ministry said the strategy, titled “Promoting a Culture of Security and Safety in Schools” aims to equip school managers with the requisite skills  to respond to critical situations, and generally, to maintain order and discipline in school.

In his address to school managers at a recent consultation convened at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) Education Minister Shaik Baksh said the protocol document will help teachers to better respond to the challenges of indiscipline in schools. He noted that often rowdiness in schools results in the loss of time allotted for learning and can jeopardise the timely delivery of the curriculum. Baksh, however, said that though every incident of violence is a cause for concern and is addressed promptly when reported, “the situation in Guyana is not a crisis” nor does it reach the proportions of what sometimes obtains in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago or the USA.

The strategy also aims to equip teachers with conflict resolution skills so that they can address and take steps to prevent the occurrence of critical incidents. It also tackles issues such as access to schools, managing illegal weapons and illicit substances in schools, monitoring gangs, associations, anti-social cliques and dealing with the aftermath of an incident. Baksh said that the goal is to enable teachers to understand learners beyond the classroom, noting that the situation in the home in most cases influences a child’s behaviour at school.

In responding to this need, the ministry has introduced the Health and Family Life Education programme in 30 schools and will be rolling out the programme in another 40 schools in September. The ministry is also moving to increase the number of guidance and counselling officers in the school system from 10 to 40. It 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, head teachers should invite NGOs, the police and religious leaders to talk to students about discipline, morals, values, road safety and other important matters. He noted that these steps will significantly boost students’ self-esteem and confidence, placing them on a trajectory to be positive, responsible citizens. The ministry said teachers lauded the strategy as timely and relevant and noted that it will serve as a reliable tool in helping them to respond to challenges problems.

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