(EMU) – St. Kitts, October, 19, 2015: Key staff members in the Ministry of Education are benefitting from a two day workshop organized by the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) organization as it fits in positively with their Child Friendly School focus. The workshop which is part of a larger effort by IMPACT Justice - an organization of the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies - has several components which will provide training for individuals who deal with discipline in the national setting including educators. Dr. Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of IMPACT Justice, said this strategy, “focuses on the deed not the doer; encourages individuals to take responsibility for their actions and emphasizes resolving and reducing conflict at the earliest stage possible; thereby avoiding blame and supporting efforts to find a constructive solution to issues.”
In order to achieve this, IMPACT Justice is conducting a series of workshops throughout the Caribbean as well as with different groups including the Ministry of Community Development and Gender Affairs, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, probation officers, child care board officers, prison officers and representatives of all public service bodies that dal with conflict.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Shawn Richards, told participants that the workshop for educators is especially significant when viewed through the perspective of capacity building for the Child Friendly School Framework which is set to be launched officially in 2016.
“Through the Child Friendly School framework we seek to build strong, caring school communities founded on values such as honesty, respect, trust, inclusion, cooperation and true accountability,” Minister Richards said.
The Minister added, “as our schools move toward a model of positive behavioural management as opposed to punitive discipline, we bring together all members of the school community to collectively teach and learn some powerful lessons in…the importance of relationships and how we want to be with each other in school, at home and throughout our lives.”
Commenting on the new approach to discipline locally, Minister Richards emphasized that it was likely to bring about improved academic and personal outcomes in education.
Course facilitator, Mr. Ron Cameron, of the International Institute for Restorative Practices of Canada explained the difference between Restorative Justice which focuses on crime and wrong doing and Restorative Practice which is based on early intervention. “The more proactive we are by creating communities, strengthening communities and strengthening relationships and the stronger the bonds and relationships between people, the less we want to do harm to one another.”
Workshop objectives include achieving information exchange; focussing on reforms with regard to disciplinary practices; fostering co-operation among students and educators; encouraging ongoing dialogue; encouraging the development of restorative practices in keeping with the Ministry’s CFS Framework.
From IMPACT Justice’s point of view it is hoped that local participants will form a Restorative Practices Association in St. Kitts and Nevis. IMPACT Justice has pledged its ongoing support.
The project is also being carried out in Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Antigua; Guyana; Jamaica and Grenada.