By Benjamin Flowers
To address Belize’s increasing high school drop-out rate, Restore Belize will offer its conflict mediation training program to more high schools in the country, according to the organization’s director, Mary Vasquez.
Vasquez explained this week that the organization resolved to reach out to the high schools after receiving the feedback from the conflict mediation stake holder workshop held at the end of April.
“This information will also be shared with high school management from schools which are not yet using the program to encourage the introduction of it,” Vasquez said.
She added that Restore Belize will also work closely with the Youth and Community Transformation (YCT) project, to spread conflict mediation practices to youth service providers.
The mediation stakeholder meeting, which was held at the Institute for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ITVET) compound in Belize City, brought together representatives from various groups using the program to share experiences and make recommendations going forward.
The workshop brought together organizations such as Conscious Youth Development Program (CYDP), Community Policing Unit, Kolbe Foundation, and the Community Rehabilitation Department, as well as school counselors, vice principals, and student mediators.
Participants discussed topics such as the role of mediation is keeping students in school, and the opportunities peer mediation presents in improving student-student relations.
Sandra Cadle, one of the facilitators for the forum, emphasized that with conflicts becoming an ever-growing reason for student expulsion from schools, mediation needs to be a support system in place to help resolve issues while keeping students in school.
“The schools are not solely responsible to keep students in school. We need to look at what support systems the schools have to ensure that that happens,” Cadle said.