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Education Minister Calls for Culture of Respect, Empathy and Non-Violence among Students

Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, has emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of respect, empathy and non-violence among students and within the school environment.

She said there must be a collective commitment to finding positive and constructive ways to resolve disputes and conflicts in schools.

The Minister was speaking during a visit to Irwin High School, in St. James, on April 24, in the wake of a stabbing incident which resulted in the death of a student.

Mrs. Williams said the Government is unwavering in its commitment to support initiatives that promote peaceful conflict resolution and ensure the safety and well-being of all students.

The Minister said it has been a difficult task processing the unfortunate and tragic stabbing incident, emphasising that there is nothing normal about the loss of a student’s life at the hands of another student.

She pointed to the gravity of the situation, where the potential loss extends beyond the victim to include the accused student facing trial.

“As I stated in Parliament, this is just a tragic situation…just sadness all around. It is devastating for the family, the school community, and Jamaica as a whole, when a child kills another child. It should cause us to look within ourselves as parents, as a community, as an education sector, and as a society,” the Minister said.

“We must take a long hard look at this to ensure that we get this right…that something like this never happens again. Yes, there may be factors that contribute to the belief among some children that the answer to their frustration in human interactions is to lash out with violence. We must change that mindset,” she added.

The Minister conveyed her heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased student, acknowledging the profound impact of such a tragic event on the entire school community and Jamaica as a whole.

“We cannot accept such violence as a normal part of school life. Every student deserves to feel safe, respected and valued in their learning environment. We must work together to address the root causes of conflict and violence, and to create a culture of peace and understanding in our schools,” she said.

Mrs. Williams pledged the Ministry’s full support and assistance to the affected school community, assuring stakeholders that every effort would be made to investigate the incident thoroughly, provide counselling and support services to students and staff, and implement measures to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The Minister also highlighted the collaboration with the Ministry of Justice on initiatives aimed at promoting restorative justice and peaceful conflict resolution.

She emphasised the importance of working together across Ministries to address the complex social issues that contribute to violence and conflict in schools and communities.

“We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Justice to promote restorative justice practices and provide training and support to schools in conflict resolution techniques. It is essential that we equip our students with the skills and tools they need to resolve disputes peacefully and constructively,” the Minister said.