Sun | Aug 18, 2019

3,000 school administrators for restorative justice training

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:15 AM
Students listen keenly to panellists at the Ministry of Justice’s Restorative Justice Youth Town Hall Meeting at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St James, on Wednesday, February 6.
Coordinator of the Restorative Justice Unit in the Ministry of Justice, Dr Kahilah Whyte, addressing students during a panel discussion at the unit’s Youth Town Hall Meeting at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St James last Wednesday.
Coordinator of the Restorative Justice Unit in the Ministry of Justice, Dr Kahilah Whyte (left), fields questions from students during a panel discussion at the Unit’s Youth Town Hall Meeting at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St James last Wednesday. Other panellists (from second left) are Mount Alvernia High School student, Chrisann Morris; Anchovy High School student, Faydian Gordon; and senior director, Corporate Services Division, Ministry of Justice, Sandra Graham.
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The Government is looking to train approximately 3,000 school administrators islandwide in restorative justice practices.

Coordinator of the Restorative Justice Unit in the Ministry of Justice, Dr Kahilah Whyte, said the goal is to train at least three individuals at every institution, “[in] roughly 1,000 schools”.

She was speaking with JIS News following the ministry’s Restorative Justice Youth Town Hall Meeting at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in Granville, St James, on Wednesday, February 6 .

Dr Whyte said the unit trained about 407 administrators from 198 schools across the island during 2018. This is in addition to other stakeholders, including justices of the peace and police officers.

She pointed out that the ministry remains committed to ensuring that stakeholders in schools islandwide are equipped with the requisite knowledge to be fully immersed in restorative justice practices.

Spreading knowledge

“We (the ministry) will not stop until every single school is saturated with the knowledge on how we can move this environment that we live in to a more peaceful, amicable society that flows with love and harmony, by listening to each other, by teaching our young people that there are other ways to solve problems and conflict with one another,” Dr Whyte emphasised.

She noted, however, that the anticipated outcomes from implementing restorative justice practices in schools will take time to manifest.

Against this background, Dr Whyte said the town hall meeting was staged with a view to empowering the youth to explore alternatives to curb the cycle of criminal activity and antisocial behaviour that may be influenced by peer pressure, music, parental relationships “or their socio-economic backgrounds”.

She contended that engendering restorative justice in schools through mechanisms such as training allows staff and students to “slow down, really take a deep breath and exhale when they are thinking about conflict.

“We are on the cusp of making Jamaica the first restorative justice country [in the world]. It is not an overnight thing, [but] we are hoping that with restorative justice we [can] rearrange the thinking of these young people,” Dr Whyte added.

The town hall meeting, which entailed a panel discussion, brought together educational institutions from across western Jamaica for discourse on the Restorative Justice Unit’s plans earmarked for implementation in schools, as well as scenarios in which attendant practices could be employed.