(EMU) – St. Kitts, January, 31, 2017: The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with USAID/OFDA is moving forward with their plans to enhance school safety in the Federation, by hosting a school safety course for Principals.
The workshop is being held at the Red Cross building from 30th January – 1st February daily. It seeks to provide the Principals with skills and strategies to develop their own school safety and emergency plans, specifically tailored to their needs.
Mr. Daryll Lloyd, Deputy Chief Education Officer states, “It is vitally important that safety plan procedures are in place in the event of a disaster or an attack of any kind.” He stressed that the Ministry of Education is wholly committed to the safety and security of the schools, not only from natural disasters. “Protection from physical and emotional bodily harm is of critical importance as we consider our safety network. With the rising crime and gang related activities, it is important that we address issues such as safety of any kind within our schools. With an increase with physical and cyber bullying among our children, teachers must be adequately trained and well equipped to handle such situations if and when they arise.”
Course facilitator and Disaster Risk Specialist from the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Anne Jean-Baptiste announced that the primary focus of the workshop would be disaster risk reduction within the schools. She advised the principals, “I want you to see the schools safety course as an initial intervention in developing a disaster risk reduction program within your respective schools.” She also warned that this is not going to be an easy task and that they’d need assistance, “It is a community effort; the school safety
course allows you to bring in emergency personnel within your immediate school community. In the event that something happens to your school, it may not have the capacity to respond immediately, so you would need the assistance from the community. The parents have to get involved, the emergency and health services within your immediate community as well.”
Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Education, Mr. William Hodge, officially declared the workshop open and keenly advised the principals to garner all possible knowledge. He advised that even though they already function in a high office with a number of responsibilities, the safety of the Nation’s youths should hold priority. “Today your role is being focused on managing the safety of your school; the safety of our children, teachers and principals. It is of paramount importance to the Ministry of Education. We have to take charge of the emergency plans for the schools. In doing so, I urge you not to just see today as an add-on to what you do, but to treat the workshop with the serious importance for which it is intended.”
The USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has worked with the Ministry in the past, most recently in April 2016 when a contingent visited the Federation to assist with the development of a school safety policy. The School Safety Course is an initiative chartered by the Ministry of Education as an aspect of the Child Friendly Schools (CFS) initiative.