With an increasing trend of school violence on island, President of the Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union (SLTU) Julian Monrose said a multi-sectoral approach is required to tackle the social ill.
Monrose told St Lucia News Online (SNO) in a recent interview that more needs to be done in addressing violence at all levels of the school system and to ensure that it remains manageable.
“The system is lagging programmes that will assist the students who have the tendency to display violence. Sometimes what they do is so much, you think the entire school is like that,” he explained.
Monrose said while the Ministry of Education has a programme in place to deal with this issue to some extent, similar programmes are needed to reduce the current level of violence displayed.
The SLTU president told SNO that there needs to be a revision of the “suspension policy” for students. “We still have students who are suspended and they are home. They are on the block. How are they being helped?” he questioned.
Monrose said this is not the best alternative and suggested that programmes be put in place to assist students in realising that the behaviour displayed is unacceptable.
Most students, he believes, are happy with a suspension, because when they are sent home, they are unsupervised and can indulge in negative behaviour.
“The people on the block are not giving them proper guidance and we need to have our youth positively engaged in activities that will benefit them in the future.”
Apart from that, Monrose said his organisation would like to see more counselors assigned to primary schools. While each secondary school on island has one counselor, for the primary schools, one counselor is attached to every district that is designated to eight or nine schools. This is a main concern for the SLTU who is calling for more counselors to be employed at primary school level.
“The children are from communities and homes where they see and experience violence and some of that will be displayed in school. Any little bit of violence is of concern to us, because we would like school to be sacred ground. The question is more discipline,” he added.