The Ministry of Education is conducting a week-long workshop from October 9 to 13 at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) conference room titled “Model Safe School Training Programme.” The workshop will assist in creating safer educational facilities and will comprise of information sessions at NEMA headquarters, as well as practical sessions at schools on St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Ministry is doing this in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).
This training is timely, as the Caribbean has recently been impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, said Senior Assistant Secretary, Eleanor Phillip.
“These two major hurricanes resulted in the devastation of many of our neighbouring islands,” she said. “Therefore the training, which is geared towards us here in the Caribbean, will help us to assess our schools for vulnerability. The training will familiarise our participants with vulnerability assessment tools,” she added.
Vulnerability assessments consists of identifying and evaluating potential risks and areas of weaknesses, for instance the vulnerability of school buildings to natural disasters and other hazards.
Mrs. Phillip explained that the participants will be trained to use the tools to assist schools that have risks for disasters and to encourage them to prepare assessment reports and action plans.
“This very important Model Safe School Programme will result in the participants being able to conduct vulnerability assessment of all our schools,” she said. “So, after this training, we are expecting to have teams visiting our schools to do assessments to help the Ministry of Education understand where the needs are and what we need to do.”
Participants for the workshop include school safety workers from the Ministry of Education, along with representatives from Early Childhood Development Unit, Cotton Thomas Comprehensive, Cecely Browne Integrated School in Nevis, Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) and the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College. The Ministry of Education’s maintenance team will also be involved in the workshop.
Other stakeholders at this training include representatives from NEMA and their counterpart in Nevis the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD). Also, representatives from the Fire and Rescue, Police, Public Works and Ministry of Health will all benefit from the training.
Three schools will be assessed during the workshop, namely the Tyrell Williams Primary, Tucker Clarke Primary and Washington Archibald High School.
According to Senior Programme Officer at CDEMA, Sharon Layne-Augustine, the Model School Safety approach will be applied in five other CDEMA participating states. The other countries to be included are Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Montserrat, St. Lucia and the Turks and Caicos Islands.