Secondary school teachers were engaged in a weeklong training on how to act as mediators in school conflicts. The programme was held by Restore Belize in partnership with the Youth and Community Transformation Project as well as the Ministry of Human Development. The programme seeks to help alleviate conflicts within schools, particularly those that end in violently. Anna Banner Guy is the Communications Officer for Restore Belize, who told us why this programme is essential in today’s society.
Anna Banner-Guy, Communications Officer, RESTORE Belize: “Over the years and as an increase in crimes, especially in Belize City, Restore Belize has responded through an educational response and a part of the response is looking at conflict mediation and the importance of it among our youth, among our schools in particular so the training is really to build capacity with school leaders and teachers, practitioners and those who work directly in contact with the students in order for them to pass on skills in resolving conflict in their classrooms and in their schools. We are hoping that these skills and methods that are learned here by the teachers will transfer to the classrooms, to the students and by extension to their communities. It is very vital that we target the most vulnerable communities and this population is our youth population of course so we are hoping that this will be most impactful through not just the schools that we have chosen but through them passing on information to their families and the practices throughout their communities.”
Some of the teachers explained how important this training is for them and what they will be taking back to their classrooms.
Dietrich Lang, Teacher, E.P.York High School: “It has been a wonderful five days. We have role-played scenarios, how to manage conflict, how participants might be difficult and we can get them to open and confidentiality is a big part of conflict mediation because we live in a society where we so casually share information. We need to understand that holding confidentiality is important for trust issues, so you can get participants to trust you and want to meditate and want to settle conflicts. If conflicts are not settled they will escalate and that is where we end up in the police hands, you end up at the court trying to mediate the conflict when it can start from very small in the schools and homes we can mediate conflict before they can escalate.”
Sandra Diaz, Cadle, Mediator, RESTORE Belize: “We know that mediation is a process, the opening session talks about setting our ground rules, letting the participants know what the mediation process is you know, I’m referring you to mediation and what exactly you are going to and also we know that rules are important if we want expectations to be met we need to know what is expected of us and then as the go on we understand that both of them will be provided the opportunity to tell their stories and share why they are at the session; then looking at the options they can generate for themselves, coming up with agreements that whether it be written or just a handshake whatever the matter is but it’s a process that they follow. We always encourage follow up refresher courses just to check and see how the mediators are doing. For the refresher courses we recommend that you have a follow up to check with personnel maybe every term as a school you know you do a check to see how you’re doing with the mediation process whether persons are accessing the services and in terms of RESTORE Belize I know it has a lot to do with their resources as well. So I would say yearly you would bring back mediators, get some feedback about how things are going, offer some new refresher courses.”
The training programme has been held every year since 2012.