State Minister for Education Alando Terrelonge says children should be taught dispute resolution techniques in their formative years as part of measures to promote peace in the society.
“Unless we can start to train our youth in conflict resolution and how to resolve issues and disputes without violence, then we will not see a change,” he said.
Terrelonge was participating in National Peace Day activities on Tuesday (March 3), at the Naggo Head Primary School in Bridgeport, Portmore.
He said that promoting peace includes eliminating corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children.
“We think it is important to encourage the youngsters to be peaceful and to educate them on what it means to be peaceful… All children have the right to be raised in a non-violent environment,” he pointed out.
Education Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Rebecca Tortello, in her remarks, commended the efforts being undertaken at Naggo Head Primary “to make the environment free from violence and free from fear, and we want all our schools to be like that”.
She encouraged the children to be “peacemakers” in their communities, adding that “we want each of you to do your part at school and at home to be a peacemaker. You do that by showing love, kindness and patience”.
Dr. Tortello also supported the Education State Minister’s call for doing away with corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure.
“We want a Jamaica where no children are beaten. We want parents, as far as possible, to abstain from beatings because violence begets violence and today and everyday should be about peace. Try every day in your school, home and community to make Jamaica a more peaceful place,” she urged.
Meanwhile, in the eyes of 11-year-old Naggo Head Primary student, Jamarie Stewart, peace in schools is essential to learning.
“In a peaceful environment, children are able to understand and to learn better with a clear mind. However, in a violent environment, they cannot learn,” he noted.
Ten-year-old Damielle Williams, for her part, said that “without peace, no one will have joy or be happy and share happy memories with family and friends”.
National Peace Day was observed under the theme ‘Peace is the Way for a Better Day’.
The day, which is observed on the first Tuesday of March each year, aims to create awareness in schools and the wider society of the need for peace. The day is promoted through activities in schools across the island.
The Ministry of Education has endorsed three initiatives to promote peace.
These are UNICEF’s ‘Safe to Learn’ initiative – a national call to action to end violence in schools; the Violence Prevention Alliance’s Trees for Peace Campaign 2020; and the Peace and Love in Society (PALS) initiative. During the function, Terrelonge and Dr. Tortello signed the ‘Safe to Learn’ initiative which aims to ensure that all schools are safe spaces for children.