Mediation is among the main strategies to deal with the disciplinary problems in schools, Steve Williams, Head of the Student Support Services Division in the Ministry of Education said.
Williams spoke at a half-day Peer Mediation Seminar at the Hugh Wooding Law School, St Augustine last Thursday. The seminar was organised by the Mediation Board of Trinidad and Tobago in collaboration with the ministry. The lively interactive session involved representatives of about 85 schools in the East-West Corridor including principals, deans, heads of departments, teachers, students and counsellors among others in the field of mediation. Participants were also given some “entertaining” reality situations on conflicts in the classroom and serious messages in resolving them in skits performed by the Brown Cotton Theatre Ensemble.
The morning’s activities included opening remarks by Chairman of the Mediation Board, Justice Vasheist Kokaram, who said that the school was no longer a safe haven for teachers and children.
He said there was need to make it a place where teachers and children will feel safe and will want to go to school.
Graphic pictures of the recent fight between schoolgirls and an adult in Barataria, and the shooting to death of a parent and the injury of his son in Diego Martin, he said, are evidence that schools are no longer safe places.
One of the advantages of Trinidad and Tobago, he said is, “we have a talking culture, which is good for peer mediation.”
Peer mediation in the schools, he said, could lead to peaceable classrooms and peaceable schools.
In his presentation, Williams, who stood in for Minister in the Ministry of Education Clifton de Coteau, said that some of the strategies to be implemented by the ministry to curb indiscipline have been on the ground for years. “Some were not implemented at the rate they should have, or not implemented at all,” he said.
The strategies, which have now been prioritised for implementation includes the training of staff and security officers in mediation to protect school personnel and plant; establishing and empowering student councils; and involving students in school management.