National consultation on mitigating violence and drugs

— primary and secondary schools targeted

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, August 8, 2019

The government is actively engaging stakeholders to address crime, violence and drug use in schools. A National Consultation to agree on a Crime and Violence, Mitigation Training programme is being held with the private and public sectors. This includes stakeholders from the business community and the Ministries of Public Security and Education.

The exercise, which is facilitated by CARICOM, opened today under the Support for Crime and Violence Prevention and Social Development Project. This is a component of the 10th European Development Fund for CARIFORUM Crime and Security Cooperation Programme.

Addressing those gathered at the at Duke Lodge, Kingston, Minister of Public Security, Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan revealed that a recent assessment was done on risks, threats and protective factors pertaining to crime and violence in primary schools, and drug demand reduction in secondary schools.

The assessment was undertaken from February 27 to March 4, 2019, in Georgetown, Essequibo, East Coast of Demerara, Berbice and Linden. These findings will be presented to the stakeholders who are tasked with developing an action plan to address the findings.

“The objective of this broader activity, under which the assessments fall, is to build the capacity of school teachers, counsellors, administrators and community leaders for what is increasingly being recognised as the way to go, as evidence-based interventions to address crime and violence in primary schools and in secondary schools and related communities that those schools come from,” Minister Ramjattan said.

He said this will be achieved through data collection, analysis and the design and implementation of relevant prevention and mitigation strategies. This includes appropriate training for youths, in and out of school.

“Addressing risk factors for drug use, truancy and school-based violence while at the same time strengthening protective factors in school settings and communities in the Caribbean is crucial to efforts to achieve the goal of the ideal Caribbean person and importantly, maintaining sustainable development gains in human and social development is achieved in the region. In this regard, comprehensive policies and programmes are needed to promote pro-social, non- sexual and physically non-violent environments in classrooms and throughout schools.”

Additionally, there will be the establishment of Champions for Change Clubs (CCC) and after school programmes to engage the targeted population in positive and rewarding activities. The clubs are expected to support behavioural change and foster proactive, healthy and productive lifestyles for at-risk youths and communities.

Minister Ramjattan also highlighted that Crime and Violence Prevention Training opportunities will also be made available to parents, teachers and community leaders.