Students acting out behavioural issues in schools may need professional help to cope with the grief of losing loved ones tragically, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw has said as the ministry launched a programme to raise emotional intelligence among teachers.
Bradshaw reported that a recent study of close to 200 at-risk students in secondary schools, showed that many of them shared the common experience of losing a loved one and have not received the opportunity to be counselled, leading them reflect negative behaviour and engaging in violence.
“Every time you see an increase in the murder rate, understand and appreciate that there is some child, or some student in your school, who is perhaps directly connected in some way to the deceased person,” Bradshaw said.
The minister of education gave the insight into the finding of the study as a workshop on emotional intelligence for educators began at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, this morning.
She said that in order to reach students battling with behavioural issues, the Education Ministry was in the process of developing an At-Risk Student Programme.
The initiative will see social and emotional programmes being rolled out for schools to help guidance counsellors and social workers to address increasing challenges, she said.
The ministry is also to partner with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) offering counselling services in order to build the capacity of educators in the area of emotional intelligence, she added.
Bradshaw said Cabinet has agreed to assign additional guidance counsellors and social workers to schools.
The Barbados School Code of Conduct and the Special Needs and Inclusive Education Policy are also new policies conceived to enhance the education system in terms of social and emotional learning, the Minister said, in addition to the existing Schools Positive Behavior Management Programme, and the Anti-Violence Campaign, recently launched in both primary and secondary schools.
The Minister declared: “The reality is that often times, children are exposed to conversations that children should not be exposed to.
“And so the anger and the frustration and the incorrect and negative demeanor some times are often played out.
“What then happens is that you as educators then have to deal with them when they come to school and if you are not emotionally intelligent to be able to identify what is confronting them, then your reaction sometimes don’t assist the situation and sometimes exacerbate the situation.”
Bradshaw said that the ministry’s programme, dubbed EQ in Education-Enabling a Better Barbados Tomorrow Today, is being launched at a time when society is concerned with increasing violence, young people requiring psychological intervention, and other distractions affecting young people in their homes and learning environments.
Over the course of the next few days, the participants are being exposed to the four major components of Emotional Intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
Principal Consultant and founder of The Potter Centre Toney Olton said that by November, close to 500 people should be trained in EQ Education.
Olton, who launched the initiative earlier this year, told those in attendance that teachers needed to play a vital role in helping to save society.
He said: “During the course of this week I am going to pour all that I have learnt and what I believe into you, with hope that you go back to school better armed, and more confident to be able to engage your charges differently because most learning is unconscious.
“One of the things that we know about emotional intelligence is that an emotionally unintelligent adult cannot raise an emotionally intelligent child. So our children need you as a teacher, as administrators, and support staff, to engage them differently.”