JIS: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, under its Safety and Security Programme, is on a mission to increase the number of uniformed groups in schools.
The move is part of measures to improve discipline among students. Research shows that the presence of clubs and uniformed groups on the school grounds helps to promote positive values and attitudes.
In addition, students who are members of these groups do better socially and academically than those who are not affiliated with such organisations.
“We are anticipating that for students who are involved with groups, it will help with their behaviour, help with self-discipline and group discipline and certainly help with the reduction of violence and critical incidents within our schools,” says Director of the Safety and Security Unit in the Ministry, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Coleridge Minto.
The Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF), one of the oldest uniformed groups in the island, is among the entities that the Ministry has engaged in its drive.
ASP Minto tells JIS News that the objective is to increase student involvement in the cadet corps from 3, 000 to 10,000 in the next three to five years.
“The schools have been very supportive of this expansion effort and 120 persons, including principals and teachers, have expressed interest in becoming cadet officers. Fifty commenced the basic officers and adult rank course in July 2018,” he informs.
Commandant of the JCCF, Colonel Errol V. Johnson, tells JIS News that the organisation now has a presence in over 50 per cent of high schools across Jamaica; however, in the next two years, the force will be in all high schools.
The JCCF is open to male and female students attending school at the secondary level, who can enlist as cadet recruits.
During the training process, which can last up to four months, recruits are exposed to the rules and regulations of the corps, basic drills, and learning to march and salute.
Recruits are also exposed to weapons training, field craft, map reading, some social graces, community involvement, disaster management, first aid, music and environmental consciousness.
Adults are trained by the JCCF to become cadet officers, and Colonel Johnson is appealing for more persons with suitable leadership qualities to volunteer to serve.
Currently, professionals such as pilots, engineers, nurses, doctors, teachers, and lawyers serve as officers in the cadet corps.
Other uniformed groups being engaged by the Ministry include the Scouts Association, St. John Ambulance and the Caribbean Merchant Marine Cadet Corps.
Currently, there are Scouts groups in 80 public schools, mainly at the primary level, while St. John Ambulance will roll out its youth brigade this year.
At the primary level, the students will be called Humming Bird; the St. John Cadet at the secondary level; and the St. John Link at the tertiary level. Students will be taught first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), among other things. Meanwhile, the Caribbean Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, which is operated through the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), was established just over two years ago and, to date, there are active cadet units in 30 schools with approximately 900 cadets.
ASP Minto pointed out that other groups, such as the Boys’ and Girls’ brigades, Girl Guides, National Interschool Brigade Movement, and the Dynamic Cadet Corps, will also be incorporated into the Ministry’s Safety and Security programme.
He informs that the Ministry will support these groups through funding, endorsements as well as assisting with their expansion programmes.
He says that the Ministry is ensuring that all the groups it endorses are approved to operate in schools.
“As with any external body, uniformed groups are required to submit the necessary documentation to the Permanent Secretary when attempting to integrate their club into a school,” he points out.
CAPTION: Drummers of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF) practise in preparation for a parade.