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(PRESS RELEASE) – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis have commenced consultations toward the development of a National Safe School Policy.
The consultations are being held over a two-week period, from May 13 to 24, 2019.
The National Safe School Policy will provide the context for the amendment of existing legislation to integrate disaster risk reduction and environmental-protection measures for schools in the implementing countries.
Technical support for the consultations is being provided by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) through Environmental Solutions Limited (Jamaica) under the project titled, ‘The Implementation of the Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean’ — (also known as the MSSP Project).
The goal of the Model Safe School Programme for CDEMA Participating States is to create safe, secure/protective and green educational institutions from pre-primary to tertiary levels, including public and private institutions through the development of simple, applicable and adaptable tools.
This first-stage of policy consultations was designed to garner stakeholder participation and consensus building within the national context. A number of key stakeholders have already been targeted in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica including the National Safe School Programme Committee, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, the chief education officer, teachers, district education officers, the labour commissioner and early childhood and special needs units within the education ministry.
In Dominica, a courtesy call was made to Mr. Fitzroy Pascal, national disaster coordinator of the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), where the work of the ODM toward the safe school mandate was highlighted. In the context of the deep involvement of the ODM in safe school initiatives in the past, Dr. Winston McCalla, key policy expert, emphasised the integral role that the ODM plays in supporting the National Safe School Policy and in the functioning of the National Safe School Programme Committee.
The National Safe School Programme Committee serves as the nucleus for promoting and implementing safe schools as a programme within the Ministry of Education in Dominica, as well as in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.
Mrs. Eleanor Jones, chief executive officer of Environmental Solutions Limited and disaster risk management specialist on the assignment, indicated that consultations to date have revealed the centrality of the education sector to disaster resilience at the community level, the vast number of lessons to be learned in the aftermath of the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the need for psycho-social support in the aftermath of hazard events, and the need for policy considerations in relation to the use of schools as shelters.
Environmental Solutions Limited will also be in the targeted countries during the stated period to conduct school assessments.
About the Implementation of the Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean
The CDEMA Coordinating Unit has received grant funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to the amount of EUR 746,000 to implement the Model Safe School Programme toolkit in Antigua and Barbuda and five other countries: Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Implementation of the Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean (MSSP Project) was designed to, among other things, enhance the capacity of the six target CARICOM states to incorporate and mainstream comprehensive risk and disaster management considerations into education sector policies, planning and operations.
In addition to the development of National Safe School Policies for each state, the components of the intervention consist of: conducting school assessments in 33 schools across the targeted states; preparing individual costed action plans for reducing or eliminating the risks identified during the school assessments; developing an electronic application for the collection of safety and green data during school assessments; reviewing, elaborating and enhancing a building condition assessment element tool; and providing training for 90 local public professional across the six targeted CARICOM states.
Funding is being provided under the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) in CARIFORUM Countries Programme.