Ministry backs Garcia: School violence on the decline
The Education Ministry maintains that school violence and indiscipline is on the decline.
A statement from the Ministry today reaffirmed earlier comments by Minister Anthony Garcia that there has been a clear decline in these incidences, following the implementation of a number of intervention strategies over the last nineteen months which have impacted positively in schools and resulted in the decline.
The Ministry said violence and indiscipline in schools have not ended but available data shows that they are in decline, with records confirming a reduction in the number of students suspended over recent times.
“In 2015, there was a total of 5,257 suspensions amount secondary school students. A year later, this number was reduce to 3, 940 students – a decrease of 25.5%. In the primary schools, 296 students were suspended in 2015; while in 2016 the total number of primary students was 254 - a reduction of 14.18%.”
“Additionally, a review of the suspension summaries for 2015 and 2016 show that less than 1% of the nation’s school population of two hundred and twenty thousand students were involved in disruptive and harmful behaviour.”
“Furthermore, requests for extended suspension, which can only be granted by the Minister, amounted to 132 in 2015. In 2016 requests were made concerning 48 students – a decline of 64%. In 2017 so far the decline continues.”
The sharing and re-sharing of videos of school children in their uniforms engaging in violent behaviour, however, is posing a challenge as it has contributed to this “wrong perception”.
Defending its tactics, the Ministry said its strategies include a direct approach in dealing with each student to equip them with skills in conflict resolution, effective communication, emotional intelligence and problem solving.
It added that efforts are also made at the level of the home by engaging parents via the Ministry’s Parenting in Education workshops in which parents receive information, techniques and tools to help support their children.
Other strategies include enhanced supervision of students during teaching and non-teaching times, School Safety Officers in collaboration with security personnel and Deans who ensure the safety of the student population from internal and external threats.
These strategies are further augmented through the National School Code of Conduct and ongoing training of Principals, Deans, Heads of Departments, and Teachers in classroom management, conflict resolution and problem solving.
The Ministry also credits Learning Enhancement Centres (LECs) for its success in reducing school violence and indiscipline.
The LECs continue to provide a safe and nurturing space for students who have committed infractions. At-risk students and students on extended suspension are assessed and a programme developed to address their social and academic needs.
Students leave the centres equipped with skills to make responsible choices and avoid inappropriate behaviours, the Ministry said.
All of these strategies fall within the framework of the Ministry’s School Based Management Model, which encourages the school to engage all its stakeholders in the management of the school and discipline is seen as a community responsibility.
The Ministry said it remains committed to providing a “safe and nurturing environment, conducive to the teaching/learning process, as part of government’s National Development Strategy toward producing a disciplined, caring, and tolerant society comprising healthy, happy and educated people”.