Innovation summary

A survey of a small, but nationally representative sample of Jamaican five to six year old children reported a 12% prevalence of clinical level behavior problems, and none of these children had received any medical services1. The prevalence is likely to be substantially higher in low-income, inner-city areas. This is a concern because children with social, emotional and behavior problems at school entry are at risk for many negative outcomes throughout life including juvenile delinquency, academic underachievement, substance abuse and continuing psychiatric disorders and crime and violence in adulthood. School and societal violence is an enormous problem in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean and the primary prevention of violence is a national and regional public health priority.

This innovation will develop and evaluate a teacher training intervention with teachers of six to seven year old children teaching in low-income, inner-city areas of Jamaica. Through the low-cost, evidence based training package intervention, teachers will be trained in classroom management and in strategies to promote children’s social-emotional competence. A technological component will be used to remind, encourage and reinforce strategies to teachers. 


Impact summary

  • 27 teachers were trained and they reached at least 810 grade one children aged 6-7 years each school year

  • Teachers’ use of violence against children was reduced by 62.5% in intervention classrooms versus control classrooms

  • $217,000 USD funded by Grand Challenges Canada over two years


This innovation is funded by Grand Challenges Canada.


Innovation details

This innovation is based on a teacher training intervention that has been developed to train preschool teachers in Jamaica called the “Irie Classrooms Toolbox”. It is currently being evaluated in an effectiveness trial in 76 preschools in Kingston and St. Andrew and through an impact, process and economic evaluation. This innovation will adapt the toolbox for use in the primary school context.

The toolkit, designed for use with poorly trained teachers with relatively low levels of education, will be used to train school teachers of six to seven year olds (grade 1) in the management of classroom behavior and in strategies to promote child social-emotional competence.   

The intervention will be delivered by the research team through:

  1. Five full-day workshops

Teachers will be trained in the use of key evidence-based behavior principles utilized in child behavior modification interventions that have been shown, through the research team’s previous studies, to be suitable and effective in the Jamaican context. This includes training in:

  • Creating an emotionally supportive classroom environment
  • Using classroom rules and routines to prevent behavior problems
  • Managing child misbehavior effectively

This training is designed for teachers to deliver a curriculum unit on social and emotional skills that is fully integrated into on-going teaching and learning activities.

  1. Monthly in-class coaching and support sessions

The in-class support sessions will take place over two school terms, and involves coaching, praising, performance feedback and collaborative problem-solving.

  1. Weekly text messages 

Text messages will be used to support, remind and encourage teachers.

Objectives of the innovation

Through this innovation, the following objectives are expected to be achieved:

  • Increased emotional quality of the classroom environment
  • Reduction in use of corporal punishment by teachers
  • Improved teachers' mental health
  • Reduction in children’s social, emotional and behavior problems during the critical early childhood period when children start formal schooling


Key drivers

Integration into Existing System

The intervention is integrated into the existing educational system and involves training existing staff, without increasing their prior workload, creating ease in implementation and aiding to project sustainability.

Conducive Policy Environment

Conducive policy environment is integral to the success of the programme, as improving the quality of the grade one classroom environment is a key priority of the Ministry of Education.



Practical constraints in working in schools that are under-resourced and with large class sizes may be a challenge.



The intervention is low cost, integrated into the existing educational system and involves training existing staff so it should be feasible and sustainable at scale.



 Ministry of Education (Jamaica)


Grand Challenges Canada


Evaluation methods

Not yet evaluated.


Cost of implementation

No data as yet.


Impact details

The innovation has resulted in 27 teachers being trained, enabling them to reach at least 810 grade one children aged 6-7 each school year. The use of violence by teachers against children showed a significant reduction of 62.5% in intervention classrooms versus control classrooms





  1. Samms-Vaughan M (2005) Profiles: The Jamaican preschool child. The status of early childhood development in Jamaica. Planning Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.


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