Principal Education Officer (PEO) in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Lornette Queeley Connor made the disclosure on Thursday, when she delivered a report at the second Symposium on Crime with the theme “Reclaiming out Society”.
“The position of the Department has seen a gradual change from understanding and leniency to a rigid and firm position of zero tolerance for violence. Our [Education] Department has taken the position that no excuse or reason would be an acceptable one for perpetuating an act of violence and that law enforcement would be contacted to deal with all students who violate the law and we are serious.
“Valuable time would not be devoted to deal with repeat offenders and that all subsequent infractions would be referred to the police for resolution. I repeat we are serious! We do not intend to have repeat offenders coming to the Department of Education for intervention with the psychologist. We feel that time could be better spent learning school work, that is what children go to school for, to learn school work. Of course there are other interactions which are necessary,” she said.
Mrs. Queeley Connor noted it had been made clear that children would no longer be brought to the Department for meetings.
“We are asking parents to send their children to school to learn and we are asking children when they go to school to stay in school and learn do not fight, don’t curse, don’t throw stones don’t do anything where you are acting in contravention of the school rules,” she said.
According to the PEO, the Education Department continued to do all in its power to curb incidences of deviant behaviour and spoke to a number of initiatives that had been implemented at both Primary and Secondary schools on Nevis.
An Anger Management and Conflict Resolution Programme, an initiative of the Ministry of Education in the Federal Government in 2010 which was sponsored by the Organization of American States for secondary and primary students, teachers, guidance counsellors and parent focus groups, had assisted the schools.
“It is the general consensus that what the primary schools have been doing seem to have been working to everybody’s benefit. However, the Virtues Project has been implemented by the Guidance Counsellors in schools that had not been following the programme. They have been in healthy discussions with School’s Psychologist Dr. Swanston and it is reported that classroom sessions are done using the Virtues such as humility, confidence, integrity, compassion etc.
“Our students then, are encouraged to live by their highest values. To be honest and sincere, to listen to their conscience and to do the right thing and to tell the truth at all times. They are constantly reminded that their words and actions must match; that they should have respect and a peaceful heart,” she said.
With specific reference to the two secondary schools on the island, Mrs. Queeley Connor explained that they had continued to play their part through prayer, Scripture reading and song or some sort of religious worship during morning assembly, which usually set the tone for thinking about Christ.
The PEO also pointed to increased emphasis and support for the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET). A series of meetings in an effort to reorient the way TVET was thought of and the way it was envisioned going forward had been effected.
She also spoke of Police involvement in the schools and pointed to the recommitment of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force to building partnerships with the Department of Education.