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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2011 Jamaica: An Evaluation on the Creating safe Places for Learning in Schools Project



Executive summary

 

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Development of the Creating Safe Places for Learning in Schools Project (CSPL), which was piloted in thirty schools in Kingston, St Catherine and St James, was a response to an urgent need to address the increasing problem of violence among Jamaican school children. The project was a collaboration of the Ministry of Education, (MOE), the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) and the Violence Prevention Clinic (VPC) at the University of the West Indies and was supported by UNICEF between July 2007 and December 2010.Thirty schools were selected for the CSPL Project based on the number of incidents of conflict and violence reported in schools, geographical proximity to the DRF Peace and Justice Centres in the Education Regions I, IV and VI covering schools in Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town and their proximity to volatile communities. The primary objectives of the project were to equip school-based professionals (SBPs), primary caregivers (PCGs) and students to better manage anger and mitigate conflict and violence, create a safer school environment and promote child rights and responsibilities. A baseline study was conducted to assess the situation at the start of the project (2008) and an interim assessment was conducted in February 2010.

A mixed methodology approach was applied to the evaluation. Seventeen purposively selected target schools and the Peace and Justice Centres were the sites where surveys, interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) among students, SBPs and PCGs were conducted.

The key findings are:

• The project exceeded its target by training more than double the number of SBPs (472) originally targeted (200).

• The Anger Management and Conflict Resolution toolkit was critical in meaningfully engaging SBPs in this project and ensuring a measure of standardization on tackling the issue of violence in schools.

• Two thousand four hundred and thirty five (2,435) parents were trained in anger management, conflict resolution and alternate disciplinary practices which represented only 40.6% of the target.

• Approximately 20,387 children and young people were trained in anger management and conflict resolution.

• Two hundred and eighty (280) school based professionals were equipped with knowledge of child rights.

• One thousand, four hundred and ninety-two (1,492) primary caregivers were sensitized in child rights representing 74.6% of the target that was achieved.

• Twenty-seven thousand, eight hundred and eighty (27,880) young people were positively motivated by behavioural messages supporting violence prevention through diverse media.

• Two thousand, three hundred and twenty three (2,323) students completed the DRF School Suspension Programme (SSP) during the life of the project this programme was considered very effective by students and school-based professionals in positively modifying behaviour.

• A Safe Schools Policy was drafted, the purpose of which was to provide an "agenda for action to enable the creation of safe, secure, child-friendly and stimulating learning environments in schools.

The Creating Safe Places for Learning in Schools (CSPL) project undoubtedly played a critical role in the broader Safe School Programme which is a partnership between the MOE, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Health. It appears to have contributed to transforming the landscape of schools from being that of conflict reactive to conflict proactive with the introduction of preventative measures beginning in the early years to mould and shape the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of young children away from violent conflict.

Although 42% of respondents said that they consider the communities they live in to be violent and students in focus groups recounted countless stories of witnessing murders and shootings, there appeared to be positive changes in the perceptions about school safety, as more persons report that violence is decreasing in schools than not and the majority feel safe at school. However the project did not succeed in capturing critical incidence data in the pilot schools to support this perception, which was a missed opportunity that limits the evidence of effectiveness.

The Creating Safe Places for Learning in Schools Project (CSPL) achieved significant success in meeting the majority of the project indicators and expected outcomes and should continue to be implemented in targeted schools.

As violence impacts education, health and security, investment from the MOE, the MOH, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Justice, whose partnership has already been established through the Safe Schools Programme is advised, to support different aspects of this behavioural intervention. In addition, there is a need to build strong partnerships with key duty bearers, the private sector, parents and communities to maximize home and school safety initiatives to support violence prevention. Effectiveness of this critical school intervention requires a joint sector approach that can provide a holistic and balanced approach to implementation and long-term sustainability. Therefore a plan proposing the steps for key duty bearers to take to strengthen the governance, legislative and policy framework for implementation of this initiative include establishing a shared vision, strategies and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track violent incidents in schools. If the approach is not comprehensive and multi-faceted, no matter how well delivered or theoretically unassailable behavioural interventions are, they will yield limited results to children engulfed in community violence.



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