Teachers trained in violence resolution

Twelve teachers from different schools across the country graduated on Thursday with certificates from the Alternatives to Violence Project (A.V.P.) workshop. 

The A.V.P. programme aims to train teachers to raise alternatives to violence rather than reacting in a violent manner to students. 

One of the participants and the coordinator of the programme, Gatoloai Tili Afamasaga, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that the programme supports policies implemented by the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C). 

"M.E.S.C has a policy for safe schools so we decided that as a teachers' organisation, we'll run this workshop for teachers," she said. 

"The teachers' organisation is also part of the Spotlight Initiative and as we’re an N.G.O. we want to support everything that is happening under the Spotlight Initiative."

The Spotlight Initiative is a project spearheaded by the U.N.D.P. to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Afamasaga believes that this is their contribution to end violence within schools. 

The program started in September last year with basic training and was followed by the advanced programme in November before wrapping up on Thursday with a training for facilitators. 

The workshops were facilitated by Nonu Ueni Fonoti, Dr Maria Kerslake and Ben Toilalo. 

The Lead Facilitator, Mr Fonoti said that they are glad to have worked with the teachers to run this programme as it is vital to ending violence and reducing crimes. 

"I was very happy to be a part of the teachers’ workshop here because they are facing a very tough job dealing with students of different backgrounds every day," he said. 

"And so it’s very important for them to find alternatives to deal with the kids and also deal with their own families and their owns struggles in their everyday lives."

As coordinator, Afamasaga said it was important that the workshops were based on experiential learning. 

"The participants here are all teachers with lots and lots of experiences, and so the tasks of the facilitators is to draw out those experiences from which we do a lot of learning," she added. "The outcome is to enable all the teachers to stop looking at violence as a way of resolving disciplinary problems but to look at alternatives."

Focusing on peaceful interactions with students was one alternative that was discussed to help a child's academic growth.

"Usually our first reaction as teachers to children when they do something is either tell them off, smack them or send them outside, but then we thought forget about all those negative things, because it doesn’t help the child," Afamasaga added.

"The facilitators don’t give answers but it is through the discussions that we arrived at an understanding of what should happen and there are numerous scenarios that we as teachers have all experienced with the students, in different cases of violence."

Afamasaga added that they are looking forward to take on the next group in March to undergo the same programme. 

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