CDEMA Launches Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean & Inaugural Meeting of National Safe Schools Programme Committees
Bridgetown, Barbados, March 29th, 2018 (CDEMA) - In an effort to strengthen the resiliency of schools and by extension the education sector in the Caribbean, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is launching the Model Safe Schools Programme (MSSP) and National Safe Schools Programme Committees in six of the CDEMA’s Participating States.
This phase of implementation of the MSSP in the Caribbean was designed to, among other things, enhance the capacity of the Ministries of Education in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to incorporate and mainstream comprehensive disaster risk management considerations in education sector policies, planning and operations. Funding for the implementation of the programme is provided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through a grant of EUR 746,000 under the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) in CARIFORUM Countries Programme.
The MSSP and National Safe Schools Programme Committees have been so far launched in Dominica on March 19th and St. Kitts and Nevis, March 26, 2018. Upcoming launches will be held in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia.
In delivering remarks at the launch in Dominica, Hon. Petter Saint Jean, Minister for Education and Human Resource Development said, “The passage of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria has been a learning tool that instructs us to equip successive generations with the requisite skills and knowledge to deal with the effects of disasters during and after. The MSSP is heavily focused on inspection of schools, school safety audits and vulnerability assessments. This was designed to bolster Dominica’s consideration of risk and disaster issues in the development of the national safe school policy.”
Minister Saint Jean also noted that 22 schools were damaged ranging from complete collapse to damaged roofs post Hurricane Maria are still to be rehabilitated before accommodating students. He expressed commitment to develop long term defenses by developing long term capacity noting the danger climate change holds for present and future generations.
Speaking at the launch in St. Kitts on March 26, the Hon. Shawn Richards, Minister of Education highlighted the significance of the policy as the Ministry aspires to develop a culture of safety amongst students, staff and the wider community. “A National School Safety Policy is an important document to have in our schools. it will provide guidelines for specific protocols and procedures which must be followed, before, during and after a crisis. The policy will influence a comprehensive approach to planning for and managing a myriad of potential natural and man-made hazards and safety issues within our schools.”
Dr. Yves Robert Personna, Project Manager ACP/EU/CDB Natural Disaster Risk Management of the Environmental Sustainability Unit of CDB in his remarks during the launch in Dominica said, “The education sector is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of natural hazards in the Caribbean. These events have caused severe damage and losses to the sector over the last two decades. In Dominica, Hurricane Maria recently caused damage and losses in the sector estimated at USD 77 million. Ensuring that educational facilities are safer and resilient to potential impacts of natural hazards is an urgent priority in the Caribbean.”
In order to address some of the evident vulnerabilities of the education sector, the MSSP toolkit was developed by CDEMA to guide governments on the development of National Safe School Policies, and to offer tools for assessing the level of safety and greening of schools.
“This MSSP initiative promotes a comprehensive and holistic treatment of risk in the school environment and expands the perspectives of school safety beyond the traditional singular focus on emergencies, embracing safe learning facilities and school disaster management. In this regard, it is congruent with the Caribbean Safe School Framework and a vehicle for implementing the Worldwide Initiative on Safe Schools (WISS)”, said Dr. Kerry-Ann Thompson, Project Coordinator for the Implementation of the Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean, CDEMA.
To also aid in the implementation of the MSSP at the national level, a National Safe Schools Programme Committee (NSSPC) will be established in each of the participating countries. The NSSPC will provide the governance structure, policy oversight and technical supervision as well as serve as the advisory body to the Ministry of Education for school safety. “It is our hope that this will serve as the vehicle for shifting the safe school imperative fully into the sectors and to institutionalize safe schools. I am pleased to indicate that the MSSP Project and the broader Safe Schools initiative will be a flagship programme of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit for the Corporate Planning Period 2017-2020.”, said Dr Thompson, delivering remarks on behalf of Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA.
The MSSP is being executed by CDEMA through its Coordinating Unit in collaboration with the Ministries of Education or the agency responsible for school construction and maintenance, school administration and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in each country. The Project execution is expected to last a period of 24 months.
For further information, please contact:
Communication and Education Specialist
CARIBBEAN DISASTER EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (CDEMA)
Resilience Way, Lower Estate
Tel #: (246) 434-4880
Fax #: (246) 271-3660