On Tuesday, March 3, Jamaica celebrated International Peace Day by endorsing the Safe to Learn Call to Action, which sets out in high-level terms what needs to happen to end violence in and through schools.
Safe to Learn is an initiative that brings together a strong coalition of actors dedicated to ending violence in and through schools. Jamaica’s endorsement of the Safe to Learn Call to Action – the centrepiece of the Safe to Learn initiative – comes after a ground-breaking moment in November 2019, where four girls and boys shared their experiences of violence with the Jamaican Parliament, along with the action they want the government to take to address it.
Soon after, Jamaica released a national plan of action to end violence against children, drawing on the INSPIRE: Seven Strategies to implement effective programming. And yesterday, the country’s efforts were strengthened through the endorsement of the Call to Action.
To date, 13 countries have endorsed the Call to Action. These countries include Cambodia, El Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Moldova, Nepal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda.
As part of Jamaica’s Peace Day celebrations, State Minister Terrelonge and UNICEF Jamaica participated in activities at a primary school on 3 March. This primary school was selected after winning the Trees for Peace competition, which was led by the Violence Prevention Alliance in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and Peace and Love in Schools (PALS).
The competition invited students from over 60 schools to create and maintain peace gardens to promote safe, beautiful spaces for children inside school grounds. Alongside the innovative expression of what children can do to keep their schools safe, Minister Terrelonge signed the Safe to Learn Call to Action, demonstrating the government's commitment to keep children safe in schools.
At the ceremony, children engaged in song, reading, lessons and other activities to raise awareness on the importance of Peace Day and this year's theme: “Peace is the Way for a Better Day.” Schools across Jamaica were also invited to create their own peace gardens as part of the Trees for Peace competition.
Jamaica is the first and only Pathfinding country in the Caribbean. As such, Jamaica is working alongside 28 other countries to fast-track action to prevent and reduce violence. Commitment from the highest levels is critical for Jamaica, and we applaud Jamaica for its efforts to end violence against children.