The Ministry of Education is considering the introduction of an intervention method to significantly reduce violence and antisocial behaviour among students here.
Dubbed restorative practices, this method of intervention places emphasis on improving and repairing relationships by addressing harm through dialogue among those most impacted, rather than focusing on punishment and the unilateral imposition of sanctions.
It has its foundation in restorative justice, which originated in the 1970s as mediation or reconciliation between victims and offenders.
In preparation to introduce the programme here as a key component of the national education system, IMPACT Justice – a regional justice sector reform project funded by Canada – is currently training teachers and other education officials to be intervenors.
Regional Director Professor Velma Newton told Barbados TODAY that so far, some 219 Barbadian educators have been trained out of a total of 867 in the Caribbean.
“We have trained over 100 educators in Barbados. We have done principals, deputy principals, guidance counsellors, ordinary teachers, education officers, representatives of all groups in the educational system . . . because we firmly believe that the restorative practices, the principles, if properly applied, can help to curb violence,” Newton said, adding that while this was only one mechanism to help tackle rising violence in schools, the authorities ought to use whatever is available.
Newton said attention was being placed this year on training people to become trainers, beginning with Senior Education Officer Patricia Warner and Guidance Counsellor Julia Edey as the first to receive such training.
She added that the principal of Erdiston Teachers Training College would also be trained as a trainer “because we would like restorative practices to be included in their curriculum so that as class teachers are trained, they would get used to concepts and how to apply them in schools”.
The IMPACT Justice official revealed she had written to Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw about including the practices as part of the curriculum, and was encouraged by the response.
“Her response shows that she is willing to look at restorative practices as something that can be included in the curriculum, not necessarily in secondary schools . . . [but]certainly we include it as a practice,” she said.
Newton also disclosed that those being trained here were in the process of forming an association in keeping with IMPACT Justice’s ultimate goal of forming a regional association.