THE GLEANER:  The tradition of clubs and uniformed groups on school grounds has proved to be of great benefit to students in many different aspects of life. Over the years, the numbers of clubs and uniformed groups have grown exponentially.

 

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information in the revised Safety and Security Guidelines 2015 addressed the steps to be followed in registering a group to operate in schools. Among other things, operators of groups must meet the proper criteria and outline in their application to the permanent secretary the nature of their operations and how their programme will benefit the students.

 

PURPOSE OF POLICY

 

This policy aims to ensure that while at school, students are not exposed to any form of harm, danger, or inappropriate behaviour and/or material during interactions with external uniform groups.

The policy also seeks to allow the ministry to develop a database of individuals and groups who have satisfied the criteria for entry into schools for the purpose of interacting with students.

Whether internal or external, uniformed groups have proved to be greatly beneficial to both students and schools.

 

1. Clubs and groups encourage and complement classroom learning by emphasising social, emotional, and physical development.

Students who participate in clubs are more extroverted, as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in groups and settings where communication and collaboration are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting.

 

2. Uniformed groups also provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.

Many internal groups are directly affiliated with the academic departments of the school, for example, the Math Club. These clubs are most often headed by senior students at the school. The clubs provide a positive climate without harsh, punitive controlling teacher supervision. This results in students expressing themselves more freely, as well as asking questions and participating in discussions. Other groups are aligned to a bigger organisation such as the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force is aligned to the Jamaica Defence Force, The Police Youth Club is aligned to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Caribbean Merchant Marine Core is aligned to the Caribbean Maritime Institute. All of these also provide career opportunities.

 

3. Build leadership and organisational skills

As previously mentioned, clubs and uniformed groups are usually headed by senior students. This allows said students to develop the necessary leadership and organisational skills needed in life outside of school.

 

4. Develop students' talents, skills and interests

Uniformed groups greatly improve and assist with the improvement of students' creative abilities. Students are provided with the opportunity to practise their talents among other students. Not only does this build confidence, but it also allows students to refine their skills.

Balancing schoolwork with extra-curricular activities can be stressful for some students, especially when an abundance of activities replaces the time used to study or complete homework. Involvement in extra-curricular activities can be stressful as students attempt to juggle schoolwork, homework, and after-school activities.

 

2017 Rally

 

This year's Uniformed Groups Rally will see all uniformed groups converging on the grounds of Jamaica College for a one-day event on May 3. Among the things that will be done are drills, displays, a parade of all groups, as well as the several booths that will be set up by a number of stakeholders, including the Police Youth Club. It is expected that approximately 2,500 participants from different groups will be in attendance. The day will begin with an opening parade, followed by the official opening at 8:00 a.m.

 

Given the ministry's policy priority to support and expand uniformed groups in schools, members of organised groups, including community groups, and marching bands that have an interest in participating in this rally are asked to contact the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information directly at 1-876-612-5919 or the director of safety and security for schools, ASP Coleridge Minto, at 1-876-361-2271 to obtain additional information.

- Article courtesy of The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.