Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Principal proposes behaviour modification centres to stem student violence

Published:Saturday | May 18, 2024 | 12:08 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Spanish Town Primary School principal Roogae Kirlew.
Spanish Town Primary School principal Roogae Kirlew.

Painting a dismal picture of a future Jamaica if the prevailing trend of student violence continues unabated, principal of Spanish Town Primary School Roogae Kirlew says there is dire need for the Ministry of Education to implement policy that addresses behaviour modification for students who generally exhibit violent acts, and their parents.

He proposed that such students should be separated from regular institutions and placed in behaviour modification centres established by the education ministry.

“These centres should be established in clusters across Jamaica, and separate students who are violence producers from the rest of the student body and place them in these behaviour modification centres,” Kirlew espoused. “Likewise there should be a corresponding narrative where parents of these students are exposed to workshops on behaviour modification to enable them to deal with these children in the home environment.

“It can no longer be that students who are disruptive, reject discipline, threaten teachers and their peers, involve in gang-related activities, and get into fights that lead to death, that the Ministry of Education put those students back into the institution and they continue to rub shoulders with the general student population,” Kirlew told The Gleaner.

Focus on mentorship

If these measures are not implemented, Kirlew forecasts a future Jamaica with a graduated set of violence producers who would have acquired their traits in an education system that has failed to provide answers to the problem.

Kirlew, a former municipal councìllor, said the curriculum that will be used in these centres should be similar to those at the age level whether it be primary or secondary, but there should be more focus on mentorship, uniformed groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. He argued that community service and restorative justice should be integral to the curriculum in these centres.

“It is important to note that these centres should be manned by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defence Force, in addition to trained teachers of the various subject areas,” he said, adding that funding for this initiative should be a priority item in the country’s annual budget.

Before the latest incident in Manchester on Monday in which a female student was fatally stabbed and a male student also stabbed and injured in the same incident, figures released by the Ministry of Education revealed that some 50 critical incidents of school violence, including sexual assaults, brawls and gang violence involving students, were reported between 2022 and 2023.

Kirlew said the situation has got to the point where teachers are now operating in an atmosphere of fear, and are reluctant to intervene to break up fights, not knowing if the students involved will produce a dangerous weapon that could put their lives at risk.