Three thousand full-sized “conflict resolution” posters, primarily designed for primary schools and approved by the Ministry of Education was recently handed over to Dr Peter Smith, CEO at the Ministry of Education St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain.
The project led by Act to Change T&T, an NGO that was born out of the anger, sadness, frustration, and hopelessness that engulfed T&T following the murder of Ashanti Riley and just two months after, Andrea Bharatt, in January 2021.
Founders and the sponsors of this poster, Nadia Juman and her daughter, Samantha, attended a march at the Queen’s Park Savannah in the days following Bharatt’s murder and decided that they needed to do something to try and make a change. Amid the rallying on the Savannah grass, they created the Facebook page which served as the platform to initiate a movement for change.
Since then, Act to Change T&T quickly found itself rooted in the battle against gender-based violence—collaborating with many leading NGOs in the space to plan and execute on a nation-wide walk on International Women’s Day in March 2021 in protest against GBV and calling for stronger and swifter action.
According to UNICEF, a recent Spotlight survey in T&T on violence against children revealed that such violence is widespread and generally accepted (especially for physical and emotional abuse).
According to the organisation 70-75 per cent of respondents said they had seen a child hit or shoved. And 72 per cent were aware of cases of sexual abuse against girls and 36 per cent said the same concerning boys. Experiences of violence during childhood can damage children’s physical and mental health and affect their whole lives. Violence can also affect educational outcomes and children’s potential to lead successful and prosperous lives.
The Conflict Resolution posters, targets primary schools and kindergartens and other places including community centres and Nalis libraries. The aim of the posters is character building. Developed in 1992 by Michael Josephson and a group of educators, The six pillars of character include trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
Act to Change T&T said the country needs more of these values instilled in our society, and these conflict resolution posters embody them as a means to a more peaceful end. Recent research on character education is becoming a prevalent topic amongst employees, influences, political leaders, and even young people across the globe.
How can teaching this topic have anything put positive effects? What is the point of trying to groom Grade A students if they are full of anger, resentment, disrespect, and bully others? Act to Change explained that the society needs to look at individual growth in a more holistic manner and see this as part of the solution to many of the issues that face T&T.
In setting out on this venture to promote positive moral and values education among children, Act to Change said it was extremely fortunate to solicit the help of WholeHearted School Counseling, an organisation based in the USA that created the poster and approved it for use with the Ministry of Education.
Consisting of a dozen tiles each illustrating a scenario where a child uses a specific approach to resolving a conflict, which is titled on each tile, the poster aims to show kids that there are non-violent and equitable ways to solve a problem they may encounter with a friend or an adult.
With the support of the Ministry of Education and the private sector, the posters are intended to be a springboard off which dialogue can start between kids, teachers, school management, and parents, and serve as a reminder for such dialogue to continue around the importance of virtues education, in the fight against violence, dishonesty, and corruption.
As a part two to this initiative, Act to Change wants to target the secondary schools using a different medium of communication more suitable to the age group to deliver the same messaging. This road toward peace is very long and requires the collective action of individuals. While some may see it as just a poster on a wall, Act to Change sees this as a small step toward changing the culture of violence that is witnessed every day in T&T.