KINGSTON, Jamaica — More than 3,000 participants, including teachers, students and parents are benefitting from conflict resolution sessions sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Youth, and the Ministry of Justice.
According to the coordinator for the National Restorative Justice Programme Andriene Lindsay, 3,120 individuals are involved in the programme from 78 high schools and 26 primary schools.
She was speaking at the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two ministries aimed at using restorative justice to curb conflicts between students in schools.
The signing took placed at the Education Ministry, Heroes Circle in Kingston.
Lindsay said there is “joint interest” with respect to training, research, transfer, and dissemination of knowledge for the prevention and reduction of conflict in educational institutions translating to homes and communities at large.
She said the ministries are combining efforts to promote best practices in conflict resolution and enhancing community cohesion.
Restorative justice training equips staff with conflict reduction skills, and it is a set of principles, “working from a preventative perspective” which she said repairs and builds trusting and respectful relationships between individuals and in communities.
“Evidence demonstrates that continued use of restorative approaches assists not only with resolving conflicts as they occur, but serves to boost participants’ morale, develop a shared understanding between individuals and cultivate a culture of positivity and team spirit,” Lindsay said.
The coordinator noted that an important dimension in the programme is the inclusion of school administrators and parents with the students, as it ensures that the practices learned in training will continue in the home and across communities.
Meanwhile, Director for Safety and Security in Schools, Richard Troupe said a monitoring and evaluation tool has been developed to assess regularly how the training is being used and how children and schools are being impacted.
“We have an excellent MoU to guide the process, and we will be tracking the impact of the training for the restorative justice programme,” he said.
Restorative Justice is a procedure which brings all the parties with a stake in a particular incident together, to resolve the conflict and deal with the aftermath.