#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Department of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools. This is in line with her aim to fulfill this mission under the Safe and Secure Schools Program, Minister of Portfolio, Hon. Fayval Williams, said. She further noted that “this is part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”
Ms Williams was speaking at the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday June 26. The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.
Ms Williams’ remarks came against the backdrop of what she said was “increased concern” in recent months about incidents of violence in Jamaica’s schools and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic education and character to students. She noted that several initiatives within the ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, including support for uniformed groups in schools.
“The department supported uniformed youth groups in the development of a three-year strategic plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups that will both advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the ministry to those groups,” added Ms. Williams.
The Minister noted that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys’ Brigade, Cubs, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades”.
“It is well established that students who participate in clubs are more outgoing because they participate in activities that promote socialization with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and teamwork are needed. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside the school setting,” she said.
Ms Williams said the activities engaged in at the meetings also complement classroom learning and emphasize social aspects, emotional and physical development.
Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.
“The Uniformed Youth Groups represent a cohort of young people across the country who organize themselves around a set of core values, such as honor, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual strength”, underlined the Minister.
She noted that while most are based in schools, units can also be organized at church and community levels.
“Indeed, we know that the church has been a primary source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is that in recent years there has not been as strong an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Williams said.
She said it was recognized that the young people in society now had many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value of participating in groups like these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders. .
The Minister also noted that older, more traditional groups, such as Boy Scouts and Guides, have an international reach and maintain links with global movements.
“Support from these fraternal organizations has declined over the years, however, and local organizations need to find the resources to support operations and pay the required membership fees. So, again, it is important that we in the local community step in to provide the necessary support,” she added.
In this regard, the Minister commended the members of the uniformed groups and the CVSS for the continued efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.
In addition, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at regional and international levels.
“As a collective, we continue to be dedicated to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible in order to become productive members of society,” Ms. Williams said.
Contact: Douglas McIntosh