State and Civil Society Partnering Against Crime and Violence in Jamaica
This week on Bridge 47's Network Stories Series, Shermaine Barrett of ICAE talks about the projects taking place in Jamaica on Transformative Education in schools in order to facilitate dialogue around peace issues.
As part of its National Development Plan, Vision 2030, Jamaica articulated a vision of being a place to live, work raise families and do business. One of the four goals of the National Plan aims for a Jamaican society that is safe, cohesive and just. But the country continues to be dogged by a persistent problem with crime and violence. This is a phenomenon that belies a country that is beautiful in both its natural resources: scenic white beaches, rivers, mountains and plains and its people: effervescent and exuberant; friendly and innately hospitable. Often described as a monster among the locals crime and violence is seen as the main public safety issue for Jamaicans and a significant threat to the country’s human and economic development. Against this background efforts to address the issue of crime and violence is considered a high priority to many Jamaicans and so there are many and varied interventions that aim to address the issue at all levels of the society. Two of these interventions are the Peace and Love in Schools (PALS) initiative and the Peace Management Initiative (PMI).
PALS Jamaica is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to changing attitudes towards violence and promoting conflict resolution in the Jamaican society. It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) involving a cross-sectoral group that gives leadership at the Board Level. This entity was established in response to the state of rampant indiscipline in the Jamaican society that had pervaded the schools. The aim of this initiative is to manage conflict and violence in schools through understanding and resolving conflict. The main focus of the entity is to teach the young people who will be the adults of tomorrow to be at peace with themselves, their fellowmen and with God. One key activity of the organization is the coordination of a Peace Day which takes place on the first Tuesday of each year. The objective of this day is to create awareness among schools and the public of the need for peace. On this day the public is encouraged to wear something blue and to fly a blue ribbon from their cars. The day is celebrated with activities in schools and communities such as concerts, exhibits; art and poetry competition; art and craft; banner competition; film shows and marches against violence and the promotion of peace
The Peace Management Initiative is a State and Civil Society alliance which involves persons from churches, academics, Dispute Resolution Foundation, political party leaders and is funded by the Ministry of National Security. The aim of this initiative is to establish a sustainable mechanism of preventing and controlling organized and community violence. The interventions of this entity seek to address the crime issue through dialogue, mediation, counseling and community development and transformation. Some of its measures include training for youths in skills and academic subjects, training in the resolution of conflict; the provision of small grants for income generating projects; working with employment agencies and cultural activities.