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News : International : Caribbean News Last Updated: Apr 24, 2019 - 4:24:16 PM

St. Vincent and the Grenadines to host 2nd Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum focused on education sector resilience
By Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
Apr 24, 2019 - 3:05:16 PM

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KINGSTOWN, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Ministers of Education, officials in the education sector as well as regional and international partners will convene in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the second Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum. The forum will be held from April 29 to 30, 2019 in Kingstown and hosted by the Ministry of Education, National Reconciliation, Ecclesiastical Affairs and Information.

In April 2017, the first Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum was held in Antigua and Barbuda. During this event, the Caribbean Declaration and the Road Map on School Safety were adopted. The second Ministerial Forum on School Safety in the Caribbean is therefore a follow-up, which will respond to the need for a more collaborative and coordinated approach among actors in the region’s education sector.  The lesson learnt from the 2017 Hurricane season will feed into a revised version of the roadmap for school safety. One of the outcomes of the forum will be to increase the number of countries joining the Caribbean Safe School Initiative.  

The forum will particularly contribute to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy and Programming Framework 2014-2024; the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools (WISS); Caribbean Safe School Initiative; the Samoa Action Plan for SIDS, the Global Action Program on Education for Sustainable Development; the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This second forum will be also linked to a Youth Forum “My Island, My Life” that will identify safety issues around the three pillars of the Comprehensive School Safety Framework:  safe learning facilities (disaster-resilient infrastructure), school disaster management; and, disaster risk reduction and resilience education. This Youth Forum, which will be held from 25 to 26 April 2019 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, intends to be a platform through which young people can contribute to policy discussions through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. The conclusions and recommendations of the Youth Forum will be presented during the Ministerial Forum.

The Caribbean is a region of high exposure to multiple natural hazards including hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, windstorms, tsunamis, landslides and droughts. Vulnerability combined with exposure to such hazards can serve to drastically undermine poverty reduction strategies, hinder development gains and jeopardize educational systems. At the same time, the Caribbean region is acutely exposed to the negative effects and impacts of the increased frequency and magnitude of extreme weather and climate-related events, which are exacerbated by climate change and variability. Such events, if left unmitigated, can lead to devastating consequences to a nation’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

In line with global recognition, the importance of school safety had also been long acknowledged in the Caribbean. The 2014-2024 Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy calls for increased and sustained knowledge management and learning for Comprehensive Disaster Management, as well as standardization and improvement of educational and training materials.

In addition, political will for action was demonstrated by previous experiences in the Caribbean, such as the Living Schools Project, the first Caribbean Safe School Ministerial Forum in 2017 as well as the Caribbean Model Safe School Programme (MSSP) developed by CDEMA in 2014 and implemented in three pilot countries (i.e. Anguilla, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).

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