(EMU) – St. Kitts, March 26, 2018: “The Ministry of Education advocates for the delivery of quality education in a healthy, safe and secure environment,” declared, Hon. Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education et al, at the launch of the National Safe Schools Programme Committee and the Development of the National School Safety Policy. 
Keeping with the objective outlined in the Education Sector Strategy, the Ministry of Education officially launched both initiatives in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The ceremony took place on Monday 26th March at the NEMA conference room. 
The launch of the policy and committee follows the signing of the Caribbean Safe Schools Initiative Declaration and Road Map in 2017. There, the Minister of Education pledged the Federation would develop and implement a school safety and security policy 
Speaking at the launch, Minister Richards highlighted the significance of the policy as the Ministry aspires to develop a culture of safety amongst students, staff and the wider community. “A National School Safety Policy is an important document to have in our schools it will provide guidelines for specific protocols and procedures which must be followed, before, during and after a crisis. The policy will influence a comprehensive approach to planning for and managing a myriad of potential natural and man-made hazards and safety issues within our schools.”

He noted that the School Safety Policy allows for the formation of four committees to lead the charge in disaster risk reduction, and ways in which school safety could be further enhanced to help better protect school communities. 
These committees will comprise stakeholders and experts from various groups and organizations within the island. The committees are the National Safe School Programme Committee, School Safety Management Team, School Safety District Committee and the National School Safety Council. 
Dr. Kerry-Ann Thompson representative of CDEMA presented the address on behalf of Project Manager at The African Caribbean Pacific–European Union –Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Yves Robert Personna. His remarks emphasized the importance of the education sector as critical to the continued growth of a society and affirmed that the launch of the policy would be a crucial source of reference. 
“Given the critical role the education sector plays in achieving the development objective of inclusive economic and social development, it is important to ensure that educational facilities are safer and resilient to potential impacts of natural hazards. In an effort to build the education sector’s resilience to those hazards, CDEMA has developed the Model Safe School Programme in the Caribbean.” 
She divulged that CDEMA worked closely with regional stakeholders to develop and implement the MSSP which is designed to aid in the process resulting in safer and greener educational facilities regionally.

Executive Director of CDEMA, Mr. Robert Jackson, addressed the audience via a video presentation. During his remarks, he assured that the CDB has allocated more funds for the implementation of the MSSP in other CDEMA member states. Additionally, he confidently advised that the region is on the right path for the continued advancement of the education sector. 
“Education is key to engendering a culture of safety. It is essential in the shaping of knowledge and behaviour, therefore a priority sector in the regional Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy 2014-2024.” He added, “The MSSP initiative, promotes a comprehensive and holistic treatment of risk in the school environment. It expands the perspective of school safety beyond the traditional singular focus on emergencies, embracing safe learning, safe facilities and schools disaster risk management.” 
The Ministry of Education expresses its gratitude to all partners and stakeholders, locally and regionally for staunch support thus far. Special appreciation was expressed to the CDEMA and CDB for their financial and technical assistance in this venture.

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