On 26 October, the Ministry of Education and Youth (MoEY) of Jamaica, in collaboration with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), hosted a roundtable meeting on responses to tackle the presence of firearms in schools. The roundtable meeting aimed at promoting dialogue at the national level on this phenomenon between the different stakeholders and sectors.

During the event, the current context of the presence of firearms in Jamaican schools, their possible impacts, and the challenges that this problem represents were discussed. Representatives from MoEY, the Jamaica Police Force and the Jamaica Planning Institute exchanged views and experiences highlighting some of the measures being implemented to address gun violence in schools.

Discussions focused on preventive approaches across the Latin American and Caribbean region. “While Jamaica has not had many incidents involving the use of firearms on school campuses, it is important that educators and agents of change must work together to proactively identify preventive approach”, emphasized a participant.

UNLIREC informed those discussions with a presentation on the main findings of its regional study ‘Firearms in Latin America and Caribbean Schools- Approaches, Challenges and Responses’. During the presentation, UNLIREC highlighted the main of the manifestations of this phenomenon as well as good practices which are implemented across the region.

To promote the exchange of good practices, the Ministry of Public Education from Costa Rica participated in the roundtable, sharing its initiative entitled ‘Gun Free Schools’, a public policy that is being implemented at the national level in all public schools in Costa Rica and that has includes in regulatory frameworks, protocols and guidelines, data collection, awareness raising campaigns and concrete actions which engage young people.

This virtual roundtable forms part of the activities carried out under the Saving Lives Entity (SALIENT) fund initiative in Jamaica, which seeks to operationalize and mainstreaming small-arms control into development efforts and policies in Jamaica.

The SALIENT fund initiative is implemented in Jamaica by the Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and its Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).