Government’s new plan to tackle the violence in schools appears to be gaining mostly supportive responses, according to an informal Barbados TODAY survey.
During a meeting with education figures on Saturday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced a series of initiatives that will be introduced to the tackle student-on-student and student-on-teacher violence in the island’s public schools.
Social workers are to be introduced to primary schools and additional guidance counsellors are to be deployed to “vulnerable” secondary schools, Prime Minister Mottley announced as she unveiled the plan.
Defence Force soldiers and Police are to step up joint patrols in the bus terminals, aboard buses plying the routes students travel and outside schools, she revealed.
The Prime Minister outlined plans for the creation of a facility similar to the now-closed Edna Nicholls Centre to cater to troubled children.
When Barbados TODAY took to the streets, Barbadians were praising the Prime Minister for her quick response to the alarming concerns expressed by educators and the public.
Bryan Phillips supported the introduction of a social worker in the primary school and extra high school guidance counsellors. Phillips contended that authorities needed to explore the “root cause” of youth deviance and crime. He emphasized that young people might not be willing to speak to their teachers but professional psychological help was the best way to address the problems they faced.
“All of these issues have a root cause and if you find the root cause there is a possibility that we can raise a much better generation,” he said.
“A lot of young people are going school hungry, a lot of young people are going through it. Coming from broken homes, broken families living in destitute situations and when they get to school and find anything they think can satisfy them… they start to take on that pattern and that is one of the reasons why we have a lot of violence,” Phillips added.
He also spoke about the importance of civil society organisations such as the church building morale and teaching discipline.
“Some people don’t even know about Sunday School; some children don’t even know what Psalm 23 is and these are things we take for granted. These are the things that gave older persons a really good foundation,” he suggested.
Although Janelle Hoyte applauded the Government’s efforts to get to the source of the problem, she argued that other students in the classroom should not be put at a disadvantage because of their classmate’s misdemeanours. She recommended that these troubled children be enrolled in vocational or technical schools.
“There are places where you can put these children. If they don’t want to learn in schools and they want to do something with their hands, let them do something with their hands,” Stoute said, adding: “You have children who cannot focus and you send them to special schools so they can do something with their hands… or put them into acting or something.”
Hoyte’s co-worker, Kendra Forde, agreed. “The best thing for them is the children who don’t want to learn or behave, get them out of the schools and find something for them to do,” she said.
Forde declared that the ban on corporal punishment was the “downfall” of the Barbados education system. She said that in a society where “children are raising children”, children weren’t being disciplined at home or at school; this was to the detriment of the future.
“You have to have some kind of discipline in the schools and that is where . . . it falls short. The parents aren’t doing it and it isn’t happening in the school,” said Forder.
Althea Wood wholeheartedly agreed with the move by the police and army to patrol school bus routes. Wood indicated that if the plan was executed efficiently, it would settle the chaos that erupted on the roads before and after school hours.