Mon | Mar 4, 2024

Schools need to embrace emotional learning

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2023 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

I am writing to you as a most concerned citizen and advocate for educational reform in Jamaica, particularly in light of a distressing incident reported in the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, November 28, titled ‘Student assaults teacher’.

The incident at Spot Valley High School, where a ninth-grade student physically assaulted a teacher, underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive solution to address not only the safety of educators, but also the emotional well-being and social development of students. In response to this troubling occurrence, I would like to bring to your attention the pressing need for the implementation of mandatory compassion and emotional learning (mCEL) education across all Jamaican schools.

As highlighted in my recent DISCUS microblog post in the Jamaica Observer, mCEL has proven to be a transformative and effective approach in fostering empathy, resilience, and well-rounded, non-mediocre individuals. Countries such as Bhutan, Finland, Chile, Portugal, and Australia have embraced mCEL, witnessing positive outcomes in terms of improved emotional intelligence, enhanced social skills, and a greater capacity for empathy among students.

The benefits of mCEL extend beyond individual development to create safer and more harmonious school environments, reduce instances of bullying and violence, and establish a stronger sense of belonging among students. Moreover, studies consistently demonstrate that students engaged in mCEL programmes achieve higher academic scores, exhibit greater creativity, and display a stronger motivation for learning and youth entrepreneurship.

In the context of the recent incident at Spot Valley High School, it is evident that there is a pressing need for a holistic approach to education that goes beyond disciplinary measures. The emotional well-being of both students and educators is paramount, and mCEL can play a crucial role in addressing the root causes of such incidents.

I implore The Gleaner to use its influential platform to advocate for the urgent implementation of mCEL education across all schools in Jamaica. By prioritising the emotional and social well-being of our youth, we can create a more compassionate and resilient society.

Here’s the thing, let us seize this signal opportunity to bring about positive change in Jamaica’s education system. The introduction of mandatory mCEL education is not just a recommendation; it is a vital step towards nurturing the emotional intelligence and social skills of our youth, thereby laying the foundation for a brighter and more compassionate future throughout this country – from Westmoreland to St Thomas.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to the continued coverage and support from The Gleaner in championing the cause of comprehensive and transformative education in Jamaica.

DENNIS A. MINOTT