“I am pleased to indicate that the Safe Schools initiative will be a flagship programme of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit for the Corporate Planning Period 2017-2020”, said Elizabeth Riley, Deputy Executive Director, CDEMA.
The CDEMA Coordinating Unit has a long history of supporting the integration of disaster risk management into the education sector through the development of technical resources to support policy, school readiness and resources to support the infusion of disaster risk management concepts into the curriculum.
During the Forum, which was hosted by the Honourable Michael S. Browne, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Antigua and Barbuda, other Ministers of Education and high-level officials endorsed and signed the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration for School Safety. The Caribbean Safe School Initiative (CSSI) was also launched, which presents the framework to advance school safety in the Caribbean and at the same time reflects the Caribbean contribution to the Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools (WISS).
“Education is key to engendering a “culture of safety” given its central role in shaping knowledge and behaviour and is therefore a priority sector in the Regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy. The opportunity to advance education sector resilience is now and ownership and leadership by the education sector is critical if we are to build resilience in the sector”, said Riley.
She also reminded the Forum of the vulnerability of the Caribbean region and by extension, the high risk and vulnerability of the education sector. “The vulnerability of the education sector in the Caribbean has been shown in the impacts of extreme events in CDEMA Participating States. Hurricane Ivan in Grenada in 2004, resulted in damage equivalent to 212% of GDP, only 2 out of 75 schools were operational post impact. Estimated damage to the Education Sector was EC$215 million. Significant losses in the Education sector are not restricted to catastrophic events but are also seen in the cumulative damage of smaller events.”