Restorative practices can assist significantly in reducing friction in the island’s secondary school system, says Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Richard Hanley.
Hanley gave secondary school principals and deputy principals attending a four-day restorative practices seminar this assurance today while addressing its opening ceremony at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.
The high commissioner noted that the CAN$19.2 million project which was being rolled out in 13 Commonwealth Caribbean countries had come at a time when the region was facing increased delinquency among the youth.
Hanley suggested that it was important to put in place “the processes, tools and skills available to build a more positive school environment for the growth and enrichment of young people”.
He pointed out that restorative practices was a relatively new social science that dealt with how to build social capital and achieve social discipline through participatory learning and decision-making.
Explaining what restorative practices seeks to achieve in the local secondary school system, Hanley said: “It is a set of defined processes and protocols that bring together those who have caused harm through wrongdoing with those they have directly or indirectly harmed. This approach can help to reduce crime, violence and bullying; improve human behaviour; strengthen civil society; provide effective leadership; restore relationships; and repair harm.
“The use of restorative practices is spreading worldwide in education, criminal justice, social work, counselling, youth services, the workplace and communities. Restorative practices frameworks have been used in provinces across Canada for sometime now. In our schools it provides a way and means to focus on building and strenghtening relationships at many levels.
“Such frameworks support the school community by repairing harm where done and by reintegrating students into a stronger teaching and learning environment,” Hanley added.
The high commissioner gave concerned Barbadians the assurance that the seminar would be repeated in the near future for teachers, school counsellors and students in a “comprehensive approach”.
Hanley told his audience, which included Cave Hill Campus principal Professor Eudine Barrituea and Professor Velma Newton of the Cave Hill Campus, that school administrators across Canada had commented favourably on restorative practice programmes and had acknowledged their importance in reducing friction in schools.
The seminar is being conducted by director of the International Institute For Restorative Practices in Canada, Bruce Schenk.